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A pregnant midshipman was permitted to graduate in May after senior Navy leaders granted her a rare exemption from the Naval Academy's longstanding policy prohibiting pregnancy and parenthood, an academy spokesman said.
"In early May, the Naval Academy became aware that the midshipman first class was pregnant and as a result her eligibility for graduation and commissioning would require a review," said Cmdr. Joe Carpenter, the academy spokesman.
She requested the waiver shortly before the May 22 graduation ceremony. "That request was evaluated through the chain of command," Carpenter said. "The [Department of Defense] and the Navy evaluated the request and approved a waiver."
Asked whether the academy's superintendent, Vice Adm. Jeffrey Fowler, had recommended or concurred with the decision to grant the waiver, Carpenter said: "It's not our practice to discuss internal deliberations."
Carpenter declined to identify the midshipman, who is now a commissioned officer, citing privacy concerns.
The Naval Academy Midshipman Regulation Manual's policy on pregnancy and parenthood states: "Parenthood is defined as having legal, financial or custodial obligations for a child or children, as determined by court adjudication, self-admission, or other evidence. Any Midshipman who becomes pregnant, causes the pregnancy of another, or incurs the obligations of parenthood, must report the condition to their Chain of Command," according to the manual.
"Midshipmen who become pregnant and choose not to resign will be allowed to go on a leave of absence of no more than one year. Midshipmen who are pregnant or have incurred the obligations of parenthood and who fail to resign or request a leave of absence will be separated," according to the manual.
That policy remains unchanged, Carpenter said.
Cmdr. Brenda Malone, a spokesman for Navy Personnel Command, said the young woman's case was unique.
"Senior Navy leadership endorsed and the Department of Defense approved a request for the midshipman to graduate and receive her commission in May 2009," Malone said in a written statement. "There were unique circumstances surrounding this case, to include the fact that she had completed all academic requirements for graduation."