Key To Female Infantry Integration Still Beyond Military Planners: Birth Control

The military is set to roll back restrictions on women serving in combat roles early next year, but that doesn’t mean integration problems have suddenly disappeared.

Female servicemembers are bringing one particular issue to the forefront, namely the fact that they often can’t access the exact type of birth control they want at every military installation, which presents a major obstacle to operational capability because of unwanted pregnancies, NPR reports.

Accidental pregnancy is 50 percent higher in the military than among female civilians, based on results from a Department of Defense survey conducted in 2008. Almost 11 percent of 7,000 active-duty female servicemembers in the survey experienced an unplanned pregnancy. This rate has increased since 2005.

Costs associated with pregnancy are high. If a female servicemember becomes pregnant while at home, she cannot deploy, and additionally, if she becomes pregnant out in the field, the military has to evacuate her at a cost of $10,000 dollars, a figure which only counts raw costs of transportation.