The program remains popular among the citizenry, as it was put in place as part of a deal to eliminate universal male conscription in the 1960s, though the true acronym has been masked under many 'backronyms', the most common of which is 'Soldier Production from All Rejected Tykes to Advance the Nation' (which some government officials favor over the true acronym).
Prior to any abortion being carried out, the abortion clinic schedules an appointment with a military recruitment officer. The officer, who is legally an 'abortion counselor' will offer a generous payment, with the purpose of mitigating the inconvenience of the pregnancy, where the child will be brought to term, 'aborted' as a legal fiction, and enlisted in the SPARTAN program. SPARTANs are accepted only from genetic grade 1-3 parents; grades 4-5 parents will not be considered for the program, and will merely have a cursory appointment for legal purposes.
Thanks to the legal fiction of their abortion, SPARTANs are not technically citizens, though citizenship is guaranteed at their first contract termination date of 30. They are then offered a re-enlistment bonus to enlist for a further 10 or 20 years, with an option to extend the 10-year contract to 20 years at any point, and a guaranteed pension for the 20 year option. Citizenship is also offered to all SPARTANs who can no longer serve due to medical disability, though the precise requirements for 'no longer able to serve' are extensive, as non-combat roles, such as in administration or logistics do not necessarily require perfect physical condition. As a result, the 20-year re-up rate is 98%, with the remainder opting for the 10-year re-up and not choosing to extend.
Only 3 people have left the service at the date of their contract termination. One felt he needed to work towards increased rights for SPARTANs and opted to move into politics, where he has been very successful, and is currently serving as our Minister of War. Another, was offered a management fast-track position at BP State Arms, due to the many improvements he suggested to SPARTAN equipment indicating he would be more useful in R&D, and has successfully risen to the position of CEO. The third is popular crooner Isaiah Rumlow, best known for his seminal jazz album 'All My Days Are Smooth'.
Since the SPARTANs are not citizens, they do not technically enjoy protections under civil law, but military law has kept up with this, and they are consequently afforded most rights due to a citizen. Their legal status is a gray area, but the legal terms of their enlistment are under indentured servitude, rather than slavery, as they have their salaries paid into a government-overseen investment account, which they cannot touch until the age of 30. SPARTANs are legally allowed wills, so any SPARTAN who does not survive to 30 will have their account disbursed according to the will.
SPARTAN candidates are raised in creches until their induction, which occurs on January 1st of the year they would turn 3, after which they are trained and educated identically until the year they turn 12. At this point, they are selected for various roles based on their aptitude scores. It was been noted that most officer candidates come from children born earlier in the year, an unfortunate consequence of year-based batches, and so the Minister of War has moved for smaller, 3-month-sized batches, which will be implemented in 2017. It has also been noted that most officer candidates are genetic grades 1 and 2, while administrative or menial tasks are overwhelmingly assigned to the few grade 4 and 5 candidates. The pool of 4s and 5s shrinks yearly, however, as the overall genetic health of the nation improves.
As 'SPARTAN youths', they are prohibited from serving on the front lines until age 16, though some with certain roles such as artillery men or drivers are allowed to serve in those capacities once their training is complete, despite those roles having a theoretical possibility of encountering enemy combatants. Those who have been assigned to an 'infantry' role (mechanized, mobile, or special forces) are prohibited from being two operational zones away from the battlespace until 16, as these candidates are generally selected for increased aggression, and as a consequence, may attempt to involve themselves in conflict, despite not being trained to the fullest extent needed to operate the NEMESIS exoskeletons, and for the most recent batches, the HEPHAESTUS full-body powered armor.
As a necessary result of their recruitment practices, SPARTANs can be either male or female. Female candidates were restricted to combat support roles until the 1990s, after which, due to the invention of the NEMESIS powered exoskeleton leveling the physical playing field, they were opened up to allow full front-line service.
The end goal of the SPARTAN program is to get candidates who are trained, from young, to live and breathe warfare. It promotes unit cohesion, aggression, discipline, and tactical acumen, and allows for much higher degrees of specialization and training than a force recruited from adults. Moreover, learning is centralized, meaning the same ethics are taught, the same values are espoused, and the same standards of physical training are imposed. It's the most practical, if least ethical, means of waging warfare, particularly since none of the ethical concerns or fears concerning NBRE weaponry are taught to the SPARTANs; as a result, the entirety of the Special Weapons division of the Ministry of War is composed of ex-SPARTANs, as they would be best able to make the appropriate strategic decisions.