Text: H.R.5447 — 107th Congress (2001-2002)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (09/24/2002)


107th CONGRESS
2d Session
H. R. 5447


To express the remorse of Congress for the policy of the Department of Defense in effect until 1976 providing for involuntary separation of female members of the Armed Forces who became pregnant while in service and to take certain steps to make amends for the effects of that policy


IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

September 24, 2002

Ms. McKinney introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Armed Services, and in addition to the Committee on Education and the Workforce, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


A BILL

To express the remorse of Congress for the policy of the Department of Defense in effect until 1976 providing for involuntary separation of female members of the Armed Forces who became pregnant while in service and to take certain steps to make amends for the effects of that policy

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Women Discharged From the Military Due to Pregnancy Relief Act of 2002”.

SEC. 2. Findings.

Congress finds the following:

(1) In June 1948, Congress enacted the Women's Armed Services Integration Act of 1948, which formally authorized the appointment and enlistment of women in the regular components of the United States Armed Forces.

(2) With the expansion of the Armed Forces to include women, the possibility arose for the first time that members of the Armed Forces could become pregnant.

(3) The response to such possibilities and actualities was Executive Order 10240, signed by President Harry S. Truman in 1951, which granted the Armed Forces the authority to involuntarily discharge a woman if she became pregnant, gave birth to a child, or became a parent by adoption or a stepparent.

(4) The Armed Forces responded to the Executive Order by systematically discharging any woman in the Armed Forces who became pregnant, regardless of whether the pregnancy was intentional, unintentional, or the result of sexual abuse.

(5) Although the Armed Forces were required to offer women who were involuntarily discharged due to pregnancy the opportunity to request retention in the military, many of the women who were involuntarily discharged were not offered such opportunity.

(6) The Armed Forces did not provide required separation benefits, counseling, or assistance to the service women who were discharged due to pregnancy.

(7) It is documented that as many as 7,000 service women were involuntarily discharged from the Armed Forces as a result of pregnancy.

(8) There are reports that the practice of the Armed Forces to systematically discharge pregnant women from the service caused some women to seek abortions (illegal at the time) or to put their children up for adoption, and that, in some cases, some women committed suicide as a result of their involuntary discharge from the Armed Forces.

(9) Such involuntary discharge from the Armed Forces on the basis of pregnancy was challenged in Federal district court by Stephanie Crawford in 1975, whose legal argument stated that the practice of this type of discharge violated her constitutional right to due process of law.

(10) The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled in Stephanie Crawford's favor in 1976 and found that the Executive Order and any regulations within the Armed Forces that made discharge from the military services mandatory due to pregnancy were unconstitutional.

(11) By 1976, all regulations that permitted discharge of a servicewoman from the Armed Forces because of pregnancy or any form of parenthood had been rescinded.

SEC. 3. Expression of Congressional remorse for policy of involuntary discharges due to pregnancy.

(a) Sense of Congress.—It is the sense of Congress that the women who served in the United States Armed Forces before February 23, 1976, and who were involuntarily discharged due to pregnancy should not have been involuntarily discharged due to the physical status of pregnancy.

(b) Expression of Remorse.—Congress hereby expresses deep remorse for the women who patriotically served in the Armed Forces, but were forced, by official United States policy, to endure unnecessary and discriminatory actions, including the violation of their constitutional right to due process of law, simply because they became pregnant while a member of the Armed Forces.

SEC. 4. Payment of pay and allowances not paid by reason of involuntary discharge due to pregnancy.

(a) Determination of eligible persons.—The Secretary of Defense shall identify each woman who was involuntarily discharged or separated from the Armed Forces due to pregnancy during the period beginning on June 12, 1948 (the date of the enactment of the Women's Armed Services Integration Act of 1948), and ending on February 23, 1976.

(b) Payment of missed pay and allowances.—

(1) ENLISTED MEMBERS.—The Secretary of Defense shall pay to each woman identified under subsection (a) (or to the estate of such woman, if deceased) who was an enlisted member of the Armed Forces at the time of her involuntary discharge an amount equal to the total amount of pay and allowances that the Secretary estimates would have been paid to the woman during the remainder of her term of enlistment or period of obligated service (if any) had she not been involuntarily discharged due to pregnancy.

(2) OFFICERS.—The Secretary of Defense shall pay to each woman identified under subsection (a) (or to the estate of such woman, if deceased) who was an officer in the Armed Forces at the time of her involuntary separation an amount equal to the total amount of pay and allowances that the Secretary estimates would have been paid to the woman during a period of active duty beginning on the date of her involuntary separation and ending on the earlier of the following:

(A) The completion of five additional years of service on active duty.

(B) The date on which she would have completed a period of active duty equal to her service in the Armed Forces before her involuntary separataion.

(3) ADJUSTMENT.—Each amount determined under this subsection shall be adjusted for inflation, as determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, to the date of the payment.

SEC. 5. Loan forgiveness for certain student loans.

(a) Definitions.—For purposes of this section:

(1) ELIGIBLE OFFSPRING.—The term “eligible offspring” means any child of an eligible person under section 4(a) that is determined, in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary, to be the offspring of such person from the pregnancy that was the cause of such person's discharge or separation from the Armed Forces. For purposes of this definition, it does not matter whether the child was raised by the eligible person or adopted and raised by another person.

(2) SECRETARY.—The term “Secretary” means the Secretary of Education.

(3) FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN.—The term “Federal student loan” means any loan made, insured, or guaranteed under part B, D, or E of title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, regardless of whether the loan was made, insured, or guaranteed under such part before the date of the enactment of this Act or is made, insured, or guaranteed under such part on or after such date.

(b) In general.—The Secretary shall provide for the discharge or cancellation of the Federal student loan indebtedness of an eligible offspring in the same manner as is required by sections 437(a), 455(a)(1), and 464(c)(1)(F) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1087(a), 1087e(a)(1), 1087dd(c)(1)(F)), as the case may be.

(c) Facilitation of claims.—The Secretary shall—

(1) by regulation, establish procedures for the filing of applications for discharge or cancellation under this section, which regulations shall be prescribed and published within 30 days after the date of enactment of this Act and without regard to the requirements of section 553 of title 5, United States Code; and

(2) take such actions as may be necessary to publicize the availability of discharge or cancellation of Federal student loan indebtedness for eligible offspring under this section.

(d) Availability of funds for payments.—Funds available for the purposes of making payments to lenders in accordance with section 437(a) for the discharge of indebtedness of individuals described in subsection (a)(1) of this section shall be available for making payments under section 437(a) as required by this section.

(e) No delay in regulations.—Sections 482(c) and 492 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1089(c), 1098a) shall not apply to the regulations required by this section.

SEC. 6. Health benefits.

Health benefits shall be available under section 1086 of title 10, United States Code, to eligible persons described in section 4(a) and eligible offspring as defined by section 5(a) in the same manner as health benefits are available under such section 1086 for persons covered by subsection (c) of that section.

SEC. 7. Standard form of discharge for women veterans involuntarily discharged due to pregnancy.

The Secretary of Defense shall establish a standard discharge code (including a discharge “cause” reenlistment code and other related information) for women veterans who were involuntarily discharged from the Armed Forces due to pregnancy between 1951 and 1976. Such discharge code shall provide a single, uniform discharge code, applicable to each of the Armed Forces, indicating that the discharge was an involuntary discharge due to pregnancy. The Secretary shall develop a means by which each such involuntarily discharged female veteran may apply to the Secretary to have that veteran’s discharge documents revised to reflect the new standard discharge code. The Secretary shall promptly issue revised discharge documents to each female veteran submitting such an application who the Secretary determines is eligible for such revised documents.

SEC. 8. Sense of congress concerning continued service to the Nation.

It is the sense of Congress that the Secretary of Defense should establish policies to encourage women veterans who before 1976 were involuntarily discharged from the Armed Forces due to pregnancy to continue to serve the Nation.


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