The San Antonio Class Amphibious Transport Dock (LPD) is two months into a 6-month deployment. The crew consists of 336 men and 37 women. After finishing a practice Amphibious Exercise, the ship was preparing to pull into port four days from now for a three-day port visit to Italy.
Petty Officer Third Class Taylor is a crewmember on this ship, and she has determined that she is in her second month of pregnancy, and that she wants to terminate the pregnancy. She is an unmarried 19-year old. She is currently not having any medical complications, except for some very mild nausea in the morning. She is a 2.9 sailor who does her job, but her division officer says she "lacks motivation to excel." She has been in the navy for 14 months, and this is her first tour out of "A" school.
The Commanding Officer of the ship is well liked and respected by his crew for being tough, but fair. He is a deeply religious man, who prays at least twice a day. He has a strong personal relationship with his Command Chaplain, and the Captain has a daily devotional with his Chaplain every morning at 0830 in the Captain's Cabin. The Captain has encouraged and supported the Chaplain to begin many programs on board, including Bible study, adopting a small Catholic school in the homeport area to raise money for many charitable causes. As part of his upbringing and religious conviction, he has strong beliefs against abortion, and has deep respect for the sanctity of human life.
Four days before the ship pulls in for a port visit to ltaly, Petty Officer Taylor submits a Special Request Chit to her Commanding Officer to go on emergency leave at the next port, in order to go back to the U.S. to get an abortion. The chain-of-command up to the captain has recommended approving the chit. The Commanding Officer asks to talk to Petty Officer Taylor.
"Sir, Petty Officer Audrey Taylor reporting as ordered, sir."
The Captain finished his conversation with Petty Officer Taylor, and dismissed her.
Questions for the discussion of this scenario
1. Should the Commanding Officer approve or disapprove the chit?
Source: Rubel, W. Rick and Lucas, George R. (2004), Case Studies in Military Ethics (Boston: Pearson Education), p. 138.