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Quaker and feminist orgs denounce vote on drafting women

House Armed Services Committee passes amendment expanding Selective Service System

Women hold up an anti-war banner
Photo: Jon Krieg / AFSC

WASHINGTON, DC (September 2, 2021) Yesterday, the House Armed Services Committee voted to pass an amendment that would expand draft eligibility to women. The American Friends Service Committee – a Quaker organization initially established in 1917 to provide alternative service to those religiously opposed to the draft – condemned the vote.

"Expanding the Selective Service System to women does not advance equality,” said Tori Bateman, policy advocacy coordinator for AFSC. “It simply perpetuates the injustice of the current system. We are disappointed that not a single member of HASC spoke out about the harmful extrajudicial sanctions placed on those who don’t register for the Selective Service or the many people who don’t register because of their religious beliefs. There is nothing feminist about forcing women, or anyone, to participate in preparations for war. Congress needs to get rid of the outdated and punitive Selective Service System for everyone, not enlarge it.”

AFSC is calling on representatives to address long standing issues in the Selective Service System when the defense authorization bill reaches the House floor, including restricting the registration requirement to times of national emergency and eliminating the extrajudicial sanctions imposed upon non-registrants. 

AFSC was joined by several other organizations in opposing this vote. They issued the following statements:

“The vote in the House Armed Services Committee to require women to register for the Selective Service is wrong-headed. Far from advancing equity, this move expands the harms of the Selective Service to women without proper Congressional or public debate. Feminism is about addressing unjust systems, extending personal choice, and producing equal positive outcomes for individuals regardless of their gender. Requiring women to register for the draft does not benefit men or women, but rather hinders individual personal choice. All roles in the U.S. military are open to both men and women who choose to pursue them and we continue to oppose any effort to impose military service on men or women.” —Mac Hamilton, Advocacy Director, Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND)

“Drafting women is not feminist - no program that forces women into involuntary labor or harm's way can be called feminist. Feminism is abolishing the US draft registration system for people of all genders. Expanding the injustice of involuntary conscription to women does not make it more fair - it simply imposes the injustice on more people." —Rivera Sun, CODEPINK

“The only reform of Selective Service that Congress should be considering is the complete abolition of the system. As young people, we know how the government will attempt to co-opt feminism to feed the war machine, and we refuse to fall for it. Our vision of equity requires the end to militarism in all forms, and that starts with the end of selective service registration.” —Danaka Katovich, Peace Collective, CODEPINK

 "Truth in Recruitment stands with peace activists, feminists, faith communities, draft-resisters, and draft-age youth in opposing draft expansion as voted on by the House Armed Services Committee. Mandating women to register for a military draft does not advance equality for women and extending coercive measures to women will not expand their opportunities, it will merely remove their option to choose. Extending mandatory draft registration to new groups is neither an expression of expanding liberty nor is it an ‘insurance policy’ to avert war. We firmly believe that instead of trying to expand draft registration to young women, Congress should end draft registration for all. As the National Defense Authorization Act comes to the House and Senate floors for a vote in the coming weeks, we implore Members of Congress to emphasize a commitment to voluntary service, the de facto status of U.S. military service since 1973, when the last draft ended." —Kate Connell, Outgoing Director, Truth in Recruitment

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The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) promotes a world free of violence, inequality, and oppression. Guided by the Quaker belief in the divine light within each person, we nurture the seeds of change and the respect for human life to fundamentally transform our societies and institutions.