A Senate committee passed an annual defense bill Thursday with a landmark amendment that would force women to register with Selective Service and be eligible to be drafted into war.
The amendment was part of the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the Senate Armed Services Committee in a closed meeting and includes language to "require the registration of women for Selective Service," according to a bill summary from the committee.
Under the current requirement, men must register with the Selective Service System upon reaching the age of 18. Selective Service keeps a list of all men ages 18-25 eligible for the draft.
The overall bill passed by a vote of 23-3, according to the news release, which did not reveal the vote totals on 321 amendments to the bill that were considered. It now moves to the Senate.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), chairman of the committee, said the act would "help safeguard the nation, counter a range of evolving threats, and support our troops both on and off the battlefield." Reed supports requiring women to sign up for Selective Service. Sen. Jim Inhofe (Okla.), the ranking Republican on the committee, opposes the requirement, according to the Oklahoman. The two men released a statement on the bill, although it did not address the Selective Service amendment.
The concept of young women being drafted into war has sparked pushback from social conservatives.
Denny Burk, director of the Center for Gospel and Culture at Boyce College in Louisville, Ky., tweeted, "No, Congress. You can't have my daughters. If you need someone that bad, I will go. But not them. If you come for them, we are going to have problems."
No, Congress. You can't have my daughters. If you need someone that bad, I will go. But not them.— Denny Burk (@DennyBurk) July 23, 2021
If you come for them, we are going to have problems.https://t.co/rMyZWM6zDu
Burk linked to a 2020 column he wrote on the subject.
"What kind of a society puts its women on the front lines to risk what only men should be called on to risk?" Burk asked. "In countries ravaged by war, we consider it a tragedy when the battle comes to the backyards of women and children. Why would we thrust our own wives and daughters into that horror? My instinct is to keep them as far from it as possible. I know I'm not alone."
Burk added, "Men and women are different. The roles that each of them play during wartime ought to correspond to those differences."
In 2016, when the issue was also being discussed, Concerned Women for America issued a statement supporting a male-only draft.
"We firmly believe in the equality of men and women, but that does not require us to ignore the physical differences and unique risks to women in combat, particularly in the case of capture," the statement said. "The female draft discussion should revolve around combat readiness, efficiency, and national security, and weeding through applicants that are overwhelmingly biologically unable to meet combat standards would be a logistical nightmare and would force the lowering of combat standards. … Forcing women to serve in combat against their will is a deep departure in U.S. policy. Uncle Sam needs to keep his hands off of our daughters."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Tim Bieber
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.