Pregnant airmen assigned to Air Mobility Command will now have more information privacy during their pregnancy as part of a new directive by AMC Commander Gen. Mike Minihan.
Under the new guidelines, pregnant airmen will still be able to access prenatal medical care while maintaining health information privacy, a standard that aligns with other medical privacy policies, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
“Pregnancy is the only medical condition identified in profiles, personnel and readiness systems, making the diagnosis accessible to the unit before some women are able to process the news, determine viability, or even notify their own families,” Capt. Frances Castillo, the Air Force Women’s Initiatives Team lead, said in a press release.
Under the new guidance, pregnant airmen will be given a general 30-day profile that only documents mobility, duty and fitness requirement restrictions — a departure from the previously required 10-month profile given during an airman’s pregnancy.
While airmen are still encouraged to inform their direct chain of command, knowledge of pregnancy status will now be limited to necessary leadership and health authorities only.
“As part of maintaining operational readiness, units must be notified of mobility, duty, and fitness restrictions,” Castillo said. “However, the medical diagnosis driving those deferments should be kept private, similar to every other medical condition, so women are empowered to decide when to make their pregnancy public.”
Additionally, the automatic recipients of Air Force healthcare documents — Form 469, Form 422, and Department of Defense Form 2992, which dictate flying status and profiles — will be minimized to further guarantee an airman’s privacy.
This latest update comes amid a series of efforts from the Women’s Initiatives Team to help minimize stigmas surrounding pregnant service members.
In 2021, the General Disparity Report for the Air Force showed that maternal bias was one of the leading reasons why women did not feel included in an organization. The report also noted that having limited, delayed or canceled training, for example, was causing pregnant airmen to face professional setbacks in addition to feelings of being excluded.
Furthermore, the report showed that one in four women were delaying pregnancy testing, which could lead to severe health concerns for the service member and fetus alike, because they were concerned the chain-of-command response would negatively impact their careers.
“The Air Force is addressing systemic changes,” Minihan said, “but until those changes are implemented, I expect everyone under my command to maximize the privacy, health, and readiness of pregnant Airmen.”
Rachel is a Marine Corps veteran, Penn State alumna and Master’s candidate at New York University for Business and Economic Reporting. She has also written for VTDigger and New York Magazine, and previously worked as the Early Bird Brief Editor for Defense News and Military Times.