According to the Security Service Law in Israel, a pregnant soldier serving her compulsory military service, who decides to continue with the pregnancy, is discharged from military service. If she wishes to terminate the pregnancy (TOP) and continue serving in the army, she is referred to a civilian pregnancy termination committee.
Objective: This article aims to examine the incidence of pregnancies amongst soldiers during their compulsory military service (ages 18-20 years) and characterize the populations at risk.
Methods: Data reflecting yearly incidence of pregnancies, number of TOPs, discharges from military duty as a result of continuation of pregnancy and missed abortions amongst soldiers during their compulsory military duty were derived from the military social services records for the period 1997-2003. Socio-demographic variables, number of prior pregnancies, age of pregnancy, means of TOP, relationship with the other parent and his involvement regarding the pregnancy, were obtained from military records between the years 2002-2003.
Results: The reported yearly incidence of pregnancies in 1997 was 18.6 per 1000 soldiers during their compulsory military service. In 2003, the incidence rose to 21.5 per 1000. The incidence of continuation of pregnancy, TOPs and missed abortions remained unchanged. Number-wise, the pregnancies occurred most often in Israeli-born, high-school educated young women. When stratifying by country of birth, however, the percentage of pregnancies within subgroups varied significantly. Half of the pregnancies were terminated by pharmaceutical means. In the majority of cases, the pregnancy resulted from a relationship lasting over half a year with a male partner, who was aware of the pregnancy and involved with the decisions regarding its outcome.
Conclusion: In recent years there has been a rise in the reported yearly incidence of pregnancies among soldiers aged 18-20 years serving their compulsory military service. These findings reiterate the need to increase the efforts in implementing sex education programs amongst educators and the responsible military authorities.