Lynette Pearce, a 28 year old Fijian born gunner in the British Royal Artillery who was fighting in Afghanistan, assisting to provide covering fire for troops fighting insurgents. She was at the same camp to which Prince Harry is deployed as a gunner co pilot in an Apache helicopter squadron, where a Taliban attack last week saw the death of two U.S. Marines, and six U.S. fighter jets were destroyed in Helmand.
After complaining of stomach pains, and seeking medical assistance, it was discovered she was in fact pregnant, and going into labour. Neither she, nor the Ministry of Defence suspected she was pregnant, having conceived before flying to Afghanistan for her six month tour of duty. With a 10million pound field hospital, she was in good care, despite the location, with doctors able to deliver her son safely despite being born in the 34th week of pregnancy. Lynette had completed a tough pre deployment training regime including a gruelling eight mile march and five mile run while pregnant.
It has been suggested that the conditions of deployment including the heat, unusual hours of working and diet changes where what she may have laid blame had she been feeling out of sorts, but she was obviously very fit and strong considering the stresses and strains of operating as a soldier on the front line. She had previously captained the Fijian national football team and played against Tonga and Australia, before leaving Fiji to fulfill an ambition to serve in the army.
She has since been flown home with her baby, and is said to be doing well despite the circumstances and the eight hour flight.
Sources have released that up to 200 service women have been sent home from Afghanistan and Iraq since 2003 after discovering that they were pregnant, but none while in service at the front line. While the army conduct hearing, sight, blood and weight tests, they do not conduct pregnancy tests on female soldiers, despite pressure following this incident. The government are calling this a matter of privacy and expect women to come forward when they fall pregnant, however in this instance, the soldier showed no signs. The army do not allow pregnant soldiers to fight, and insist that Pearce had done nothing wrong in this case as she did not know she was pregnant.
While it is great that the MoD feel they owe female soldiers a level of privacy, but surely for their own good, pregnancy tests should become compulsory for all female soldiers being certified fit to be sent to the front line. I think the risks outweigh the supposed privacy breach. The MoD are responsible for your safety when deployed and should be aware of any factors putting you at risk.
What is your right to privacy worth to you if you end up in a life threatening situation on tour, while pregnant without suitable pregnancy or newborn care, or worse still…
We should be calling for the MoD to act and make this simple test compulsory.
- British Soldier Unexpectedly Gives Birth While Deployed in Afghanistan (newsfeed.time.com)
- British servicewoman gives birth at Camp Bastion (itv.com)
- UK soldier unexpectedly gives birth in Afghanistan (miamiherald.com)
- Soldier gives birth to ‘surprise’ baby at Camp Bastion (capitalfm.co.ke)
- British soldier in Afghanistan unexpectedly gives birth (metronews.ca)
- British soldier’s surprise Afghanistan birth – New Zealand Herald (nzherald.co.nz)
- UK soldier unexpectedly gives birth in Afghanistan (thehimalayantimes.com)
- UK soldier unexpectedly gives birth in Afghanistan (todayonline.com)
- British soldier gives birth unexpectedly in Afghanistan (cbc.ca)
- Woman soldier gives birth on front line (radionz.co.nz)