MoD rules out compulsory pregnancy tests for servicewomen after it is revealed that a 'miniscule' number became pregnant on deployment in the last decade


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The Independent Online

Just 20 servicewomen a year were sent home in the last decade from Afghanistan or Iraq on the grounds they were pregnant, official figures have shown.

Ministry of Defence statistics revealed that 201 women were evacuated from the war zones after discovering they were pregnant.

The figure represents less than one per cent of all the servicewomen deployed to Afghanistan from 2006 to 2013 or to Iraq from 2003 to 2006.

Officials released the figure after a Freedom of Information request and are understood to regard it as too small an issue to warrant introducing a measure as intrusive as compulsory pregnancy tests.

Moreover, it is doubtful the Ministry would have the legal authority to compel servicewomen to undergo such tests.

Asked if compulsory pregnancy tests prior to deployment were being considered by the MoD, an official simply responded: “No.”

Of more than 280,000 personnel deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan over ten years, eight per cent were women – more than 22,000.

Brigadier Nicky Moffat, who retired in 2012 as Britain’s most senior female soldier, is among those who believe compulsory tests would be unnecessary, “insulting”, and wrong.

“It would be a disproportionate and intrusive response to a very minor number of women who discover they’re pregnant during the course of a deployment,” she told The Daily Telegraph. “It’s a miniscule number. I don’t think it’s an issue.”

An MoD spokesman said: "Pregnant women are not allowed to be deployed on operations. The small numbers of personnel who discover that they are pregnant on operations are returned at the first convenient opportunity.”