Midshipmen who become pregnant will not have to leave the Naval Academy for good, according to a new policy announced Monday.
A woman will be eligible to resume her career after a one-year leave of absence if she demonstrates that she is no longer financially and legally responsible for the child, Capt. Tom Jurkowsky said.
That would mean having someone adopt the infant or be appointed guardian. Close relatives also could care for the child.
Adm. Charles R. Larson announced shortly after his arrival at the academy last summer that he was suspending the old policy, which gave a pregnant student no option but to leave the academy permanently or terminate the pregnancy.
“Adm. Larson feels that the new policy is realistic, it’s viable and it’s a policy that allows individuals to make a thorough and well-informed personal decision should they become pregnant,” Jurkowsky said.
The new policy also applies to male midshipmen, who had to leave in the past if officials learned they had fathered a child. They could now remain as a midshipman if they were not legally and financially responsible for the child.
Men and women would have to apply to the academy for permission to return.
The old policy gave a woman 10 days after she learned she was pregnant to notify officials and appear for a hearing before the commandant of midshipmen.
The new policy contains no deadlines.
“We are committed to ensuring that any affected individuals make any decision in a thoughtful, well-informed manner,” Jurkowsky said.
“The policy would allow for an abortion if that is what a midshipman chooses to do. It also ensures that a midshipman gets … a broad range of counseling to assist the midshipman in making a wise, informed personal decision,” he said.
Only one pregnancy case came before Larson during the last year. In that case, he granted a leave of absence, Jurkowsky said.