According to Thomas and Edwards (1989), policies regarding pregnancy were not well understood or enforced. Fewer than half of the male first-class and chief petty officers were correctly informed about Navy pregnancy policy, in particular, regulations affecting women in ships.
According to 1990 Bureau of Naval Personnel (BUPERS) records, 90 percent of the 50 Navy women discharged for pregnancy were in their first enlistment. The discharge rate was highest among those who were married to another military member and lowest among single women. Although pregnancy is a major reason for women to be discharged, pregnancy accounted for only 3.5 percent of all military discharges from the Navy in 1990. Fewer than 20 percent of supervisors thought that pregnant women had a negative effect on the workload of others.
A survey of psychosocial and behavioral correlates of pregnancy aboard Navy ships revealed that 4.2 percent of the 2,032 respondents were pregnant at the time of the survey; 30 percent were on sea duty when they became pregnant (Thomas, 1996). Only 27 percent of these pregnancies were planned, whereas 50 percent of pregnancies on shore were planned. Pregnant women were younger and more likely to be married than were nonpregnant sailors. Pregnancy rates were not related to education, race, or stress measures. Birth control was used by 59 percent of the sample. Of the remaining 41 percent, 14 percent were not sexually active, 13 percent were sterile, and 14 percent used no birth control method.
Pregnancy rates in the Marine Corps are at levels either equal to or lower than rates in the general population (Flatter, 1996). Women's attrition rates have been decreasing steadily in the Marine Corps. Nevertheless, attrition for over 50 percent of all female (and 30% of males) Marines occurs for one reason or another before completion of their first enlistment. Pregnancy is a major contributor to this high attrition among women. In 1991, the pregnancy attrition rate for women was 13.2 percent (overall attrition = 54.1%). Unplanned pregnancies, which account for the majority of pregnancy attrition cases, are common. Despite military policy prohibiting abortion, the incidence of abortion among women in the Marine Corps is believed to be at least as high as that in the general population (Flatter, 1996).
According to the Army Sample Survey of Military Personnel, 8 percent of enlisted females, 4 percent of warrant officers, and 6 percent of officers reported giving birth during fiscal year 1996 (Table 6-5).
Prevalence rates of pregnancy among Air Force servicewomen were obtained from the Air Force Office of Medical Logistics. As of June 30, 1997, 5 percent of enlisted women and 3 percent of officers reported being pregnant. Enlisted women 20 to 24 years of age reported the