The Center on Conscience & War is a non-profit organization that advocates for the rights of conscience, opposes military conscription, and serves all conscientious objectors to war. 

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Don’t draft women (or men)


The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is currently in Conference Committee where Senate and House members are negotiating to work out the differences between the two versions of the bill that passed earlier this year.

The Senate version of the bill includes an amendment to require women to register with Selective Service. 

The House version does not. The House voted this spring not to extend the requirement of draft registration to women. Instead, their version of the NDAA calls for a study by the Pentagon of the effects on military preparedness if women are required to register, and also the effects of ending the Selective Service registration requirement for men.

The Center on Conscience & War supports this study and opposes draft registration and conscription for both men and women.

We believe this is a good opportunity to encourage Congress to take a hard look at the registration of men, and move to end registration entirely

If you share this point of view, that draft registration for all should be abolishednow is the time to contact the members of the Conference Committee, as they could close negotiations any day now!

Members of the Conference Committee and their contact information can be found [here]. A vote "in favor" means the member voted in favor of registering women.

Only the House voted; the Senate passed the registration requirement without a debate or vote.

Suggested talking points that you can use in your calls or emails to Congress members are below. Also, [here] is a more detailed discussion of the problems with draft registration and why it should be abolished.


Talking Points on SSS registration                                                                                                           

1) Draft registration for men has been a failure and a burden on millions of men. Rather than extend the burden to women, it’s time to end it now.                                                                       

Gil Coronado, the former director of Selective Service said in the 1999 annual report,                

"If we are not successful in reminding men in the inner cities about their registration obligation, especially minority and immigrant men, they will miss out on opportunities to achieve the American dream. They will lose eligibility for college loans and grants, government jobs, job training and for registration-age immigrants, citizenship. Unless we are successful in achieving high registration compliance, America may be on the verge of creating a permanent underclass."[i]                                                                                                  

That was 17 years ago, and today there are even more restrictions and penalties for men who haven’t registered. If a man fails to register, for whatever reason, these penalties stay with him for the rest of his life, even though he will never have been charged, tried or convicted of any crime! This is not only blatantly unconstitutional, it's absolutely un-American!                                                                                                                                                        

Rather than extend this extra-judicial punishment to women, it’s time to end it for men.                                                                                                                                                             

2) Selective Service registration is a failure. When given a choice, most men don’t register.

·       SSS reports only 88% compliance with registration.[ii] That means millions of men are permanently burdened and punished by failing to register.

·       That 88% refers to all those who are required to be registered. Only 73% of 18 year old men have registered[iii], far fewer registered by the 29th day after turning 18 as required by law.

·       66% of those who registered did so by coercion, not will, as the law instructs, either to get financial aid for college or to get a driver’s license .[iv]


3) The cost of Selective Service registration exceeds the $25 million Selective Service budget: for example schools have the burden of verifying registration compliance[v] for students, increasing their administrative costs, which get passed on to students at the college. Various state laws requiring registration compliance for state benefits (such as employment) add costs to a state’s budget, yet offer no return on the investment. Extending the registration to women would increase those costs.                                                                                                                                                          

4) Draft registration is unnecessary. After 9-11, the military had more than enough volunteers.[vi] Activating the draft was never seriously considered.

Alternatives to this burdensome system currently exist. In the unlikely event of a “sudden need” for more military personnel, it is reasonable to assume that, with today's technology, a pool of names could be generated quickly and easily for a potential draft (and more cheaply than the current ongoing registration).                                                                                         

Rather than increase the numerous problems that exist with our current Selective Service System by extending the registration to women, the wise choice is to end the registration of men.


[i] FY 1999 Annual Report to the Congress of the United States, from the Director of Selective Service, p.8.

[iii]  Ibid, p.5

[iv]  Ibid, p.9






Military Conscientious Objector Act (MCOA)


This Congress may well be the best chance we have to bring the MCOA to the fore. The MCOA provides several fundamental changes in the law concerning conscientious  objector discharge from the military.  Three principle ones are:

  • The Act will make CO recognition law, rather than regulation that the military can suspend at will as they did during the Gulf War.
  • The Act will make CO discharge more consistent with all early military discharges--the commanding officer will make the decision without having to be second guessed by the chain of command except in an appeal of a denial.  This is the case for all discharges other than medical now.
  • The Act will provide recognition not only for those completely opposed to warfare in all forms, but also for selective COs who follow the principles of the Just War theory.  This allows recognition of the beliefs of all faith, moral, and ethical traditions rather than accomodate only the beliefs of minority sects which hold that all wars are immoral.

The success of this measure depends on a focused and sustained effort by not only the Center on Conscience & War, but also by our supporters.  The Truth Commission on Conscience in War, in conjunction with Christian Peace Witness and CCW, has and will be engaged in bringing the issue of moral injury and MCOA to regional meetings.  We have developed this webpage to provide you with all the necessary information and knowledge to ensure a successful lobbying visit with your Representative.  Please do not hesitate to contact CCW with any questions you may have in regards to our lobbying efforts and thank you for supporting the Military Conscientious Objector Act.

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