ICYMI: Common Defense National Organizing Director Joanna Sweatt Pens Piece for NBC Think


Joanna Sweatt details her experience with reproductive care, from tampons to abortion, as a woman in the military

WASHINGTON — Joanna SweattCommon Defense’s National Organizing Director, wrote a piece published in NBC Think last week about her experiences with reproductive health care as a woman in the military. She starkly contrasts her experience giving birth as an 18-year-old with the deep disrespect she felt while giving birth as a married woman in the military. As a woman in the military, every single aspect of reproductive care is frustrating and unnecessarily difficult. From buying your own tampons to the lack of professional medical care for people with uteruses, Sweatt details the deeply sexist military practices that made her life and the lives of her fellow female service members so difficult.

It is a powerful story worth the full read, but here are some of the highlights:

From NBC Think:

  • “The current level of [reproductive] care [in the military] is totally inadequate. When it comes to reproductive healtheverything from family planning to getting your period — worsened by the ongoing tampon shortage — can be a struggle for women who serve.”
  • “Even though I was married, my choice to remain pregnant after birth control failed was disrespected by my command and peers, who ridiculed me and made me feel inadequate as a Marine. In the naval hospital, my birthing experience was procedural and traumatic. As an active member of the Marine Corps, I was respected less and treated worse than when I was 18. ”
  • These two health care choices ensured that I could be the best mother I could be to my three children, and they guaranteed that I could continue serving my country to the best of my ability…Reproductive health is often compromised by military service. But the military fails to fully account for this in the care it provides women.”

If you’d like to connect with Joanna directly to hear more about her story and what she, along with the veterans of Common Defense, are doing to advocate for reproductive justice, please reach out to Ben Cook at [email protected].  

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