Weeks before being commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Air Force, Rebecca Edmonds found out she was pregnant. But she was unmarried, so the Air Force removed her from the ranks and accused her of committing fraud because, as Edmonds would learn, single parents are forbidden from enlisting in the Air Force, according ton CNN:
Thirteen weeks into her pregnancy, she was sworn in by her father as a second lieutenant and started making plans to go to Virginia to begin her military service. Nearly six months into her pregnancy, she said, she told her new commanders that she was going to have a child, and they told her they didn’t think it would be a problem.
But they were wrong. Citing a contract she signed in 2007 when she enrolled in ROTC at age 18, the Air Force said she committed a fraud by not reporting a change in her medical condition, as indicated in the contract. […]
Edmonds said she asked the officer who informed her that she was being ejected from the Air Force, “Had I terminated the pregnancy before my commissioning, would I have been able to commission at that point?” And, according to Edmonds, “He said, ‘Well. Technically, yes.’ That was the hardest part of all of this. Someone telling me to my face that had I gotten an abortion, then I would be eligible for service.”
After she was “dis-enrolled” from the Air Force, Edmonds challenged the decision and appealed to her congressman, Rep. Paul Ryan. According to CNN, Col. Kelly L. Goggins wrote in response to Ryan’s inquiry into the case that Edmonds would have been able to stay in the Air Force if she was married or gave the child up for adoption. Another officer told Edmonds that she would have been able to be commissioned as an officer if she had had an abortion. “That was the hardest part of all of this. Someone telling me to my face that had I gotten an abortion, then I would be eligible for service,” she said.
Edmonds’ removal from the military because she refused to give up her child or get married is not the first example of female service members having difficult with the military culture and regulations — two active-duty women were reprimanded after being photographed breastfeeding in uniform. But Edmonds’ mother, Karen Edmonds, said she hoped that when Defense Secretary Leon Panetta praised the end of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy and committed “to removing all the barriers that would prevent Americans from serving their country,” that applied to mothers in the military as well.