Congressional commission moves to include women in the U.S. military draft

'Woman should serve their country to the same extent as male citizens'

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Women train to become U.S. Marines
Women train to become U.S. Marines
(Scott Olson / Getty Images)
Last Updated:
March 25, 2020 - 1:38pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

A congressional commission is calling on women to be included in Selective Service System registration.

The commission is set to release a 255-page Wednesday that suggests the country's Selective Service Act be amended to require American women to register for the draft when they turn 18.

Though there hasn’t been a draft in more than four decades, the 1917 law requires all American men to register following their 18th birthday.

The commission was created through the Draft America’s Daughters Act of 2016 – introduced by then-GOP Reps. Duncan Hunter and Ryan Zinke.

Hunter was sentenced to prison earlier this month for misuse of campaign funds. Zinke left Congress to serve as Interior secretary before resigning last year amid federal inquires related to land deals. 

The former U.S. Marine and SEAL, respectively, are vocal opponents of women serving in combat units and introduced the bill to provoke controversial discussion, planning to vote against their own measure.

However, supporters of a female draft have have turned the commission into an opportunity for equality. 

“As society expects opportunity parity for women, it is time to also expect equal civic responsibility," Katey van Dam, a Marine Corps veteran who flew attack helicopters, said during a 2019 commission hearing. 

"In the event of a major war that requires national mobilization, woman should serve their country to the same extent as male citizens,” van Dam also said, underscoring how such a change would be a big, albeit symbolic victory for supporters.

Along with the report, the commission will offer draft legislation to help Congress turning the report’s recommendations into law. Additionally, the Senate Armed Services Committee will have a hearing in the future to discuss the report’s findings.