For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Maria Archuleta, ACLU national, (212) 519-7808 or 549-2666;
Jennifer Carnig, New York Civil Liberties Union, (212) 607-3363;

New York Ends Mandatory Pregnancy Testing For National Guard Soldiers

a new policy announced today, women in the New York National Guard
serving on a state active duty task force will no longer be required to
take pregnancy tests or face dismissal from the force if they become
pregnant. Instead, they will be treated the same as men who become
injured or disabled during a state active duty mission. The change
occurred in response to objections raised by the American Civil
Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU’s New
York State affiliate.

Soldiers in the New York National
Guard had alerted the ACLU about a discriminatory policy requiring
women in active duty positions to take periodic pregnancy tests and to
periodically sign a form agreeing that becoming pregnant would end
their assignments and cancel all associated health benefits, including
health benefits for their families. In contrast, male National Guard
soldiers on state active duty whose spouses became pregnant were not
fired and their families retained health benefits.

“I hope this change will enable
women to come forward if they feel they are being discriminated
against. Many soldiers were against this policy of pregnancy testing
but feared they would lose their jobs if they spoke up,” said Tammy
Sullivan, a soldier in the New York National Guard. “The new policy is
a step in the right direction to protecting a woman's right to privacy
and ending discrimination against women in the military.”

The ACLU and NYCLU brought their
concerns to Governor David A. Paterson’s administration, which resulted
in discussions that culminated with the new policy.

“It’s blatantly unfair to dismiss
women from National Guard state active duty missions if they are
pregnant or refuse to sign a form agreeing to be kicked off a mission
if they become pregnant,” said Ariela Migdal, staff attorney with the
ACLU Women’s Rights Project. “We are pleased that state officials
looked into this discriminatory practice as soon as it was brought to
their attention and took swift steps to change the policy.”

Under the new policy, being pregnant
no longer automatically disqualifies soldiers from state active duty
service, pregnancy tests are not required and women soldiers do not
have to sign a special form. The policy now simply requires all
soldiers to sign a form indicating their understanding that in order to
remain on a state active duty mission they must be physically able to
perform all tasks associated with their mission, including physical
training drills.

However, under the new policy,
pregnant soldiers will be dismissed from state active duty when their
pregnancy advances to the point that they cannot physically perform the
mission. No alternative assignments, like desk jobs, are available.

“While we are pleased that this
blatant discrimination has been addressed, the new policy will still
have a disparate impact on women soldiers who will eventually become
unable to serve if they become pregnant,” said Galen Sherwin, Director
of the Reproductive Rights Project at the NYCLU. “No one who is willing
and able to contribute to missions of such vital importance should be
dismissed and have their health benefits cut simply because they are
unable to perform certain tasks due to injury or pregnancy.”

The old New York National Guard "Statement of Understanding: Pregnancy" can be found online at:

The revised form, "Statement of Understanding of Conditions of Assignment," can be found online at:



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