A reader writes:
While I'm sure the modern female soldier appreciates your reader's concern for her health, and while I'm sure the reader thinks that he is a forward-thinking, concerned feminist, his argument reduces women to mindless baby makers. Does the reader think that ANY part of war is good for your child-bearing future? Does he believe that female soldiers blindly walk into battle without a thought about their health and the health of their offspring? While depleted uranium sounds extra harmful, what about trying to raise a child as a paraplegic? Or with PTSD? Does your reader not thing that women are capable of weighing these risks before joining the military?
Your reader, whatever his personal moral qualms might be about possible harm to possible fetuses, is not on the side of the law with his argument against women in combat on this basis. Per the Supreme Court case Automobile Workers v. Johnson Controls:
By excluding women with childbearing capacity from lead-exposed jobs, respondent's policy creates a facial classification based on gender and explicitly discriminates against women on the basis of their sex under 703(a) of Title VII . . . The policy is not neutral, because it does not apply to male employees in the same way as it applies to females, despite evidence about the debilitating effect of lead exposure on the male reproductive system.
Title VII, as amended by the PDA, mandates that decisions about the welfare of future children be left to the parents [499 U.S. 187, 189] who conceive, bear, support, and raise them, rather than to the employers who hire those parents or the courts.
Now in that case the harmful exposure was to lead, but I doubt that depleted uranium is not similarly damaging to male and female reproductive systems. Also, thankfully, in this country (at least in many cases) we've decided that it is the responsibility of individuals to evaluate their own choices about childbearing, rather than treating all fertile women as "pre-pregnant" (regardless of their personal plans) and therefore excluded from myriad activities and careers.
From one of the linked articles: "Chris Busby, an Ulster University expert in the effects of radiation, said the uranium particles can also wreck the DNA of sperm and eggs produced by contaminated adults – causing a multitude of birth defects in any baby they conceive."
A female Army veteran passes along the story, "Israel’s Declining Sperm Quality Tied to Depleted Uranium Exposure."