A coordinated educational effort in the military and civilian sectors should be launched to reduce the pregnancy rates among single women soldiers in compulsory service, according to researchers in the Israel Defense Forces Medical Corps and at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
The team, who published their findings in the latest issue of Harefuah, the Hebrew-language journal of the Israel Medical Association, reported that pregnancies rose in 2003 to 21.5 per 1,000 women soldiers aged 18 to 20, compared to 18.6 per 1,000 in 1997 a 16% increase. About three-quarters of those surveyed were in the early stages of pregnancy when they reported it, with most up to seven weeks after conception.
Authors of the article Yael Yagil, Einat Elran, Orly Tarchitzky, Yehezkel Levi and Yitzhak Ashkenazi concluded that since most of the pregnancies resulted from a relatively long relationship with their significant other the father and that it was the women's first pregnancies indicated that, "there is a basic problem in understanding and information about safe sex."
They also stated that while there are separate lectures to female and male soldiers about contraception and prevention of infectious sexual diseases, there is a clear need for more or better information. They stressed that improved sex education must be available not only to young soldiers but also to high school pupils.
The research showed that single women who become pregnant during compulsory service and chose to keep the baby were automatically discharged and those who decided to abort were referred to public abortion committees. Pregnancy outside of marriage is one of the four criteria for approving an abortion. The rates of abortion and of natural miscarriage among the pregnant soldiers remained steady during the period of research from 1997 to 1993.
During those seven years, nearly 6,000 women soldiers aged 18 to 20 reported to the military authorities that they were pregnant. Of these, 4,400 elected to have an abortion, 230 miscarried and the rest chose to be discharged. The authors claimed they did not know how many actually gave birth and how many decided after all to have an abortion.
Only 2% of the young Israeli-born soldiers became pregnant during service, while the rate among those born abroad ranged between 2% and 8%. One in 10 of those who reported on their pregnancy said they had been pregnant once or more before being drafted, while 3% to 5% said they had previously been pregnant during military service.
In 2003, 52% of those who had an abortion took Mifegyne, the "abortion pill," which was the less common means of abortion than during earlier years.
Send us your comments
Shannon Osborne, Winston Salem, NC, USA
: In a country that is currently struggling demographically to maintain its identity as a Jewish state, the murder of such great numbers of unborn Jewish babies is a true disgrace. Israel should not require mandatory military service from its women, and should also tighten down its criteria for allowing abortions. This is a travesty. How long will Israel allow her children to be sacrificed to the gods of feminism? Israel is, to her own folly, following us in the USA down the wayward path of misguided ultra-feminism, setting aside the sanctity of life for the convenience of slaughter.
Mikhail Osterfeld, Vienna, VA, USA
: This article illustrates a simple truth that should be self-evident: Women do not belong in the military except in cases of extreme national emergency. As a US Army
officer, I have seen first-hand the deleterious effect on morale, health and discipline produced by the mere presence of females in the ranks. All-male units fight better, stand up to stress better and are far more cohesive than their mixed-gender counterparts. Israel is no longer so desperate for manpower that it needs women in its army. The fact that thousands of Jewish babies are being callously murdered for the sake of convenience is merely another reason to end this nonsense. Why does a nation surrounded by enemies on all sides have to tolerate this tremendous burden on its armed forces and demography merely for the sake of fulfilling the power fantasies of a few feminists?
Rick Dorfman, Cherry Hill, NJ, USA
: The 8/31 article, "Pregnancy Rates of IDF Soldiers Rises," claims that nearly 3/4 of pregnant soldiers chose to abort their fetuses for a total of 4,400 abortions in 2003. The overall legal rate of abortion in Israel is 12.2%, meaning that the rate of abortions in the IDF is ~6x greater than the national average. In the civilian world, then, there would have only been 732 abortions from the same sample. This means that the world lost 3,668 potential lives as a result of female presence in the IDF; more than the total number of Israelis killed by Arabs during the Intifada
. It's time for a change in the IDF's structure. Women should be allowed to opt out of the army in favor of continuing their education, and to compensate for lost soldiers, the army should require a mandatory fourth year of service for men, with increased rank and pay.