But the question has come to signify a deeper discussion about gender equality in the military, and it took on new weight last week when the Senate approved a military policy bill that, for the first time, would require women to register. The legislation will now have to be reconciled with the House version, which would require only a study on the draft issue.
Polling experts cautioned that feminists have frequently argued against the draft in general, and that women are historically less hawkish than men.
Without follow-up questions asking if respondents were against the draft in general — or just against women participating — it is difficult to come to conclusions about the gender divide, said Ilya Somin, a George Mason University law professor whose research focuses on constitutional law, property law and popular political participation.
Kate Germano, Chief operating officer for the Service Women’s Action Netowork, said similar polls attempting to determine public opinion on the draft have found differences based on the age or demographics of the respondents. She welcomed the debate in Congress.
“Requiring women to register for the draft, if it is indeed necessary, represents that last hurdle being cleared for women being perceived as equal in the military,” she said.
But the idea has riled conservatives in both bodies.
Sen. Ted Cruz, for instance, said last week that he voted against the entire policy bill because of it.
“Despite the many laudable objectives in this bill, I could not in good conscience vote to draft our daughters into the military, sending them off to war and forcing them into combat,” Cruz said.