Senate Passes Bill That Would Require Women to Register for the Draft

Photo: Chung Sung-Jun

A Senate bill was passed on Tuesday that would make women born on or after January 1, 2018, register for the Selective Service, like men have been doing for years.

The draft was last used in 1973, during the Vietnam War, but the change in policy reflects a greater shift in the military’s attitude toward women.

In 1981, the Supreme Court ruled women did not have to sign up for the draft, under the logic that they could not endure the same combat requirements as men. Although women have now been allowed to join the military for decades, they have not been allowed to participate on the front lines of combat until very recently. In December, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said that the Pentagon is now allowing women to have combat jobs, so military officials have decided it’s time women also be required to sign up for the draft.

The bill has strong support from many Republican senators and women across parties, but is causing conflict between some of the most conservative leaders. “The idea that we should forcibly conscript young girls in combat to my mind makes little sense at all,” said Senator Ted Cruz on the senate floor. To which Senator John McCain countered, “I respect the senator from Texas’s view. Too bad that view is not shared by our military leadership, the ones who have had the experience in combat with women.”

Ah, nothing like two guys going head-to-head about what’s right for women.