The Secret Sisterhood Of Pregnant War-Zone Journalists

Journalist Elizabeth Rubin stirred controversy by hiding her pregnancy while embedded in Afghanistan. Turns out that female correspondents in Iraq have formed a "sisterhood" around being pregnant and giving birth while covering the war.

Hannah Allam, a correspondent for McClatchy newspapers, is expecting a son in four months, and two other female foreign correspondents have had children this year. They aren't as rare as you would think, according to NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro:

"Whenever a female war correspondent is profiled the phrase 'one of the few women to have made their name as a conflict reporter' constantly creeps in. It creates a false impression that we are the few. Editors these days are as likely to send a woman correspondent into combat as a man.

But that doesn't mean that being pregnant while doing your job in a war zone is treated as commonplace:

"The reactions started to change when my belly got bigger and definitely with the military. I spent most of the first trimester here. I was at the Iranian border, I was on a Chinook, I was on a Blackhawk, no problem. Second I start showing, they took one look at me and said we're not putting you on a Blackhawk," Allam says.

As with Rubin, Allam has seen her choice to work while visibly pregnant criticized. The author points out that Iraqi women give birth every day, and Allam argues that her choice should be seen as the same as a father working in a war zone:

"Yes, it's dangerous, yes, I am responsible for another life, but I don't see how it's that much different than a man who comes here while his wife is pregnant at home. You are still putting a parent at risk, you are still putting your child's future at risk," she says.

It's true that few ever doubt a man's choice to put himself at risk whether or not he has children. On the other hand, physical risk he incurs stops with him and not with a fetus he's carrying. It's unquestionably Allam's choice to make, whether we agree with it or not.

It's A Boy: Baby Shower In Baghdad [NPR]
Earlier: Elizabeth Rubin Hid Her Pregnancy To Shine A Light On Others