US Congress to Extend Draft Registration for Women


Since 2016, US Congress has been having an extended debate to expand the current draft registration to women. However, it decided to delay its decision and assigned a Military, National, and Public Service Commission (NCMNPS) to study this issue. In March of this year, the National Commission presented its final report in which it recommended to extend the draft registration to women. There are two bills pending in the Congress at the moment: to end draft registration and abolish the Selective Service System or to implement the National Commission recommendations including requiring women to register for the draft. Due to the current health crisis, it’s unlikely that either of these bills be voted any time soon, but the Congress would need to make a choice between these proposals in 2020 or 2021

In the US, all men from 18 to 25 years old are required to register with the Selective Service System and inform every time they move until they turn 26. Still, few people do this, and nobody has been prosecuted in decades. In 2015, when Barack Obama was the US president, he decided to open up all assignments within the military (including combat). If the registration for men but not women continues, it is likely that this policy will be found unconstitutional. Lawsuits against male-only draft registration have been taken to the courts, and at least one court has deemed it unconstitutional. 

In 2016, the Congress was considering "defense" bills that required young women, as young men, to register for the draft. The provision was approved by the Senate but not the House of Representatives. So, after 2016 elections, Congress appointed the NCMNPS to study the issue. 4 years later, the Commission presented its final report where it recommends extending draft registration to women and to continue the contingency planning for a draft of health care workers.

Many people, specially feminists and antiwar movements, argue that the US military draft is in a state of dysfunction, that drafting women is far from gender equality and that “striking down the draft registration for everyone is the better path toward freedom and equality for all”.

You can find more information and learn how to take action in the links below:


Sources: Courage to Resist. Podcast: Congress leaning towards drafting women for next war, 28 May 2020;  Edward Hasbrouck Congress May Act Soon on Selective Service, 29 May 2020; Resistance News. Leaflet End Draft Registration, 2 June 2020; World Beyond War, It’s Time to End U.S. Draft Registration Once and For ALL!, 2 June 2020; Resistance News, Health Care Workers and the Medical Draft, 2 June 2020.

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