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Drafting young women for war

How do you feel about compelling all women, ages 18-25, to sign up for the draft? There is a bill circulating right now in the House of Representatives which would require that very thing.

During a recent presidential debate, multiple candidates referred to it as a civil rights issue, speaking of equal access and opportunity for women. Chris Christie responded, after mentioning his own two daughters,"There's no reason why one young woman should be discriminated against from registering for the Selective Service."

Discrimination? Are we seriously equating the drafting of a law — one that would force all girls to register for something most would strongly wish to avoid — to some warped concept of liberation? Women already have full access to the military. There is no overwhelming public desire to expand the Selective Service System to 100 percent of the population.

Personally, I was horrified when I registered for the draft — against my wishes — within 30 days of my 18th birthday. Assurances from adults, that the draft would likely never be reinstated, failed to comfort me in the least. The concept of forced conscription into military service is anathema. Arguably, its use has proven to be one of the most divisive practices in our nation's history, second only to slavery.

So much so, in fact, that President Ford abolished the draft in 1974. President Carter reinstated the Selective Service System in 1980 in a misguided attempt to "get tough" after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.

Our draft registration process fails to deter any tyrant on Earth. Furthermore, our all-volunteer military has significantly increased its readiness capabilities and nimbleness since trimming away "the fat" of so many people who didn't want to be there and the morale and efficiency problems that came with them.

Our large population makes it nearly impossible for the military to determine which men are fit to wear the uniform in combat by a simple lottery, and now we propose to double the numbers by including every young woman as well?

For those who watched the Super Bowl last week, would you consider lining your daughters up against the stout defense of the Denver Broncos? Of course not. Now add knives, guns, grenades and trained killers into the equation.

Many of our elected leaders and political commentators wish to transform this discussion into hypothetical notions of fairness, equality and progress, but this is far more personal than that.

Many of you attended the Father Daughter Ball last weekend with your daughters, or saw pictures of dads alongside their beautiful girls who beamed in fancy dresses. How excited will you be in just a few short years to escort these same girls through the Selective Service System's registration process? Let's go ahead and have a cultural conversation about feminism, but conscription for warfare isn't the place to do it. Can we really support the potential of a very young child losing both of his or her parents to a war?

The conscription of young men for the Vietnam War produced wounds that we still bear today. The addition of millions of young women to the draft rolls would have only compounded these problems.

Proponents of the draft argue that it deters involvement in unnecessary wars, but it failed to keep us out of the quagmires of both Korea and Vietnam. The idea of my fifth-grade daughter being forced to register in just seven short years out of some misguided notion of fairness causes my blood to boil. My girl has expressed no wish to join the military.

The Secretary of Defense recently lifted all restrictions on women in combat. This removed much of the legal basis for an all-male draft.

The 13th Amendment prohibits not only slavery but also "involuntary servitude." Our daughters, and sons for that matter, are not a natural resource waiting to be mined by an all-powerful state. Therefore, let's end draft registration altogether. Contact Congressman Rick Nolan to share your thoughts.

Monthly Budgeteer columnist Eddy Gilmore is the author of a newly released book, “The Emancipation of a Buried Man.” Discover more at www.eddygilmore.com.

Eddy Gilmore

Monthly Budgeteer columnist Eddy Gilmore is a freelance writer, father of twins and husband of one. Connect with Eddy at eddygilmore.com.

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