Ferguson: Draft women? (8-7-43)

The Pittsburgh Press (August 7, 1943)


Ferguson: Draft women?

By Mrs. Walter Ferguson

Mrs. Roosevelt, returning from a journey to the West coast, called a Washington press conference and announced that conscription of women would be inevitable if recruiting efforts failed. This is equivalent to saying that conscription of women is in the cards. One who has followed Mrs. Roosevelt’s conferences and columns must be convinced by this time that she is a trailblazer for administration moves.

A great many people believe that the drafting of women may be necessary and would be wise. Quite naturally too, there are those who oppose it.

A bill, the Austin-Wadsworth National War Service Act, has already been introduced in Congress and if passed, would change our whole pattern of life. An organization to oppose the measure has sprung up in Philadelphia and we may expect to see the country split wide open over the issue.

On the other hand, Mrs. John Whitehurst, president of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, took a private poll of her membership recently with startling results. Those living in Southern states voted a preponderant “Yes,” while Northern members were mostly on the negative side.

I don’t know what this proves, if anything. But regardless of where we stand on the issue, we face a social innovation which would have appeared incredible and preposterous five years ago.

Instead of taking sides violently, why not study the question intelligently? Snap judgment is no good on such a question – not even Mrs. Roosevelt’s.

This proposition of a general draft for women certainly calls for an expression from the people. The matter is too serious to be trusted to pressure groups or politicians.