Air Force to Single Mom: Get Married, Give Up Your Baby or Get Out!

BlogHer Original Post

Pregnancy discrimination is illegal, right? You can't be fired or denied a job just because you're expecting, right? I mean, it's 2012, right? Wrong, as Rebecca Edmonds has found out after being dismissed from the Air Force for getting pregnant. While single. Apparently that's "forbidden" in the Air Force. Edmonds is understandably upset and fighting her case.

Best of the U.S. Air Force - Department of Defense Image Collection - September 1998

Despite the fact that Edmonds had support from her family, she was dismissed and stripped of the university scholarship they had given her. Edmonds is appealing the decision, claiming that the Air Force's policy on single mothers enlisting encourages women to give up their children, either via abortion or adoption. That personally pushes my buttons as a birth mother, knowing that subtle forms of coercion exist even in our military. Don't believe me?

Here's a quote from the CNN story:

In a letter responding to Ryan's inquiry on Edmonds' case, Col. Kelly L. Goggins wrote, "If Ms. Edmonds had reported her pregnancy she would have been placed on medical recheck status until she gave birth. At that time she would have been been able to commission if she were not a single parent, for example, if she were married, or had given the child up for adoption."

Oh. Give that baby to a (married! deserving!) family and you can have the money we promised you! It's like the Air Force took lessons from some of the most unethical adoption agencies in our country.

Not everyone seems to care about that point. Erin at Aim High Erin points out that the Air Force has a strict set of Core Values and expects everyone to abide by them at all times.

It boils down to the Air Force Core Value of Service Before Self. Apparently Edmonds didn't realize that we take our Core Values pretty seriously. If you can't live them, you can't lead by example. I'm not even suggesting that she should've gotten an abortion here. She chose sexual gratification over active duty service. Clearly her military service wasn't her top priority and source of motivation.

Part of me understands: the military is not really in the business of making exceptions. Rules are rules. Policy is policy. My husband was in the Army for eight years, four of which I was married to him. I understand. But whether or not Edmonds was thinking about the Air Force's Core Values while conceiving this child, I still find it wildly inappropriate that a Colonel suggested this woman give up her baby simply to enlist in the military.

More over, if Edmonds was a male and just found out his unmarried partner was expecting, would he be dismissed? Would he be expected to sign over his parental rights to the mother and/or relinquish his child for adoption? If Edmonds was a married male and his spouse died, leaving him to parent alone, would he be dismissed? If Edmonds, remaining female, was married, enlisted, and her husband died, would she be dismissed? Not knowing anything more about Air Force policy than what we've been fed thus far, I don't know the answer, but I fear I know.

So what are your thoughts? Should she have been dismissed? Should she have thought about the Air Force before having sex in the first place? Is this single parent rule discriminatory? Would it better serve families -- and keeping them in tact -- if it was taken on a case by case basis? Should a colonel ever suggest that a woman give up her baby?


Family/Moms & Events Section Editor Jenna Hatfield (@FireMom) blogs at Stop, Drop and Blog and The Chronicles of Munchkin Land.


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