Should Women Be Drafted?


My short answer is that no one should be drafted. After all, our Constitution prohibits involuntary servitude, which is exactly what the draft is. Our young men—and possibly women—will be forced—at gunpoint, if necessary—to take up arms and kill other people.

Except for a few psychopaths, taking up arms with the intention to kill others day after day is difficult, even when our nation is truly threatened. It’s a rare individual who remains unscathed by killing others and being a target, which is why so many return home with post-traumatic stress disorder or serious mental illnesses. Going to war should always be the last resort, since the cost in lives, money, and disabilities is so high. In recent times, however, sending troops overseas seems to be a knee-jerk response to any provocation.

When our young people perceive that a war is not just or not warranted, they become unwilling to risk their lives or kill for it. In Vietnam, a war I remember well, this is exactly what happened. Although young men enlisted early in the war, they soon concluded that Vietnam was not a threat to the United States, and resisted the draft overtly or covertly.

Today, not enough of our young men are enlisting to sustain the conflicts in the Middle East. Our troops look forward to going home after their tours are up, only to be forcibly reenlisted under the stop-loss fine print in their contracts. We claim to have a volunteer army, but in fact those who enlist can be drafted for another deployment. This discourages further enlistment, as new recruits start to understand that they are actually signing an open-ended contract.

Clearly, the government believes it will need a draft in the not-so-distant future to maintain its chosen  military action. We are told that without a draft, our young people will not step forward when our country is threatened. This is patently false. After 9/11, volunteers flooded to sign up for the anticipated military action. Now they no longer do, as they perceive their government is embarked on never-ending wars.

If our nation is truly threatened, our young people step forward willingly; if it isn’t truly threatened, why should they risk life and limb? We can’t keep killing people overseas because maybe, someday, they might try to harm us.  There are simply too many people who “might” try to hurt us.  A better strategy is to make sure our domestic security is strong enough that those who would do us harm will be thwarted in their attempt.

If we engage in overseas wars that are not truly defensive ones, and may even be primarily in the service of special interests, our young people should refuse to go.  These young adults become the canaries in the coal mine, warning us that the war we wish to fight might not be so right.

Killing is difficult enough when it is perceived as a necessary evil, but it’s even more difficult without the motivation to protect our homes and loved ones. The draft isn’t only involuntary servitude; its slavery of the worst kind as it asks the draftees to do things they find morally repugnant. How are we to spread freedom abroad by taking it away from our young people at home?

Women have a major role to play in discussions about the draft. They should indeed talk about equal rights—for both men and women. Self-determination, the decision whether or not we are willing to go out and kill others, is a right that belongs to both sexes. Instead of insisting that their own rights should be violated, as the rights of men are today, women should be lobbying for an end of the draft. Our great, great-grandmothers fought to end the slavery of black people; today, we honor their memories by fighting to end the slavery of the draft.



  1. Matthew Rhodes says:

    I disagree entirely. If one wants to live in a free society, and reap the benefits, one must be willing to serve that country. Most countries require 2 years of military service of all citizens, including many of our allies. If you are not willing to kill or die for your country, you do not deserve a right to vote, to work, or to succeed.

    • Mary Ruwart says:

      A country that has a draft isn’t free. You can’t defend freedom by taking it away from some (or all) of the citizenry as the draft does. Just because other countries enslave their young people doesn’t mean that we should do so—especially if we want to be “the land of the free.”

  2. Suzan Reed says:

    No one should be drafted, and drafting young women is a war against families. My husband and I are Vets, from a long line of volunteer vets on both sides. We served by choice, as did one of my sisters, but it is not right for everyone. One of my sons is interested in serving and we support him in that because that is his choice and his freedom to do that if he decides to do that. Helping my oldest son sign up for Sel/Serv. when he was still in high school and 18 was the worst day of my life, it felt like I was selling him to the Government, and I used to work for that Government. My daughter will be too old for this if they do make it a law, but my nieces won’t and even though both their fathers are vets too I can not picture either of them being OK with their daughters being registered for the draft.

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