The Virginia Military Institute (VMI) has adopted a resolution that will force the resignation of any female cadet who becomes pregnant and any male cadet who impregates a woman, on or off-campus. The policy states that “a VMI cadet who chooses to marry, or to undertake the duties of a parent (including causing a pregnancy by voluntary act), chooses to forgo his or her commitment to the Corps of Cadets and his or her VMI education.” According to VMI spokesman Lt. Col. Charles J. Steenburgh, “one cannot be a parent and a cadet at the same time.” He said “to be a good parent, you don’t leave and go to school and be somewhere else.”
The policy, expected to be instituted this fall, has triggered opposition from both anti-choice and civil liberties activists. Anti-choice activists claim it will compel cadets to have abortion, while others feel the policy is an invasion of privacy. Kent Willis, executive director of the Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), argues that while the policy may ostensibly treat male and female cadets equally, “the practical consequences will be vastly different.” While female cadets will inevitably face either an abortion or expulsion from the school, male cadets may be able to hide their paternity.
VMI has admitted female students since 1997, when the Supreme Court ruled its male-only policy was unconstitutional. The school’s first class of female cadets graduated this past May.