Abortion clinics in the vicinity of Maryland’s Heritage Academy should be sending the Christian school a thank you card! Their punishing treatment of a pregnant student ensures that virtually no future students will want to choose life when the costs are so high!
As a New York Times article explained, Heritage Academy students have broken the school’s code of conduct in the past, with such infractions as vandalism, drinking, smoking, and drugs. They’d been caught, and many had compounded their misdeeds with lies, but none were punished as severely as 18 year-old student Maddi Runkles when she confessed to being pregnant out of wedlock.
Maddi had a 4.0 average, played on the soccer team, and was president of her school’s student counsel, as well as vice-president of the local Keys Club. But upon confessing her pregnancy to principal Dave Hobbs, she was stripped of her leadership roles and told she would not be permitted to participate in her graduation ceremony (still four months down the road) as a visibly pregnant student. She was also informed that her fellow students would need to be told what she’d done.
Of course, Maddi could’ve avoided all this shame and punishment by choosing abortion. It was a solution she admits she considered! After all, without the pregnancy no one would know she’d broken the no-sex rule. But with the support she was fortunate to receive from her family, Maddi chose to “tell on herself”, and chose to not end the life of her unborn child.
One would think that a pro-life Christian school would embrace pregnant Maddi with compassion and grace. At very least, that her punishment for breaking the no-sex rule would be no harsher than the punishment for other infractions of the code. No student is known to have been barred from their graduation ceremony for drinking, vandalism, or drugs!
But apparently the school felt the need to make an example of Maddi. “She’s making the right choice,” said Rick Kempton, chairman of the board of the Association of Christian Schools International. “But you don’t want to create a celebration that makes other young ladies feel like, ‘Well, that seems like a pretty good option.’ ”
Right. Better humiliate her in front of the entire school and deny her a graduation with her peers, otherwise girls will be running to get pregnant! The idea would be hilarious if it didn’t have such real-life impact on young women.
As Maddi tragically put it:
“Some pro-life people are against the killing of unborn babies, but they won’t speak out in support of the girl who chooses to keep her baby. Honestly, that makes me feel like maybe the abortion would have been better. Then they would have just forgiven me, rather than deal with this visible consequence.”
Unfortunately, Heritage isn’t the first school or church community to condemn pregnant women amidst their drive to discourage premarital sex. Abortion statistics collected by the Guttmacher institute found that between 2008 and 2014, women who identified as Christians had 54% of all abortions. Of that number, 46% of them had never been married, and 60% were in their late teens or 20’s, with another 25% in their 30’s. A study funded by Carenet found that 40% of women who’d had abortions were actively involved in a church at the time of their abortion. But not only had their church not in any way dissuaded them from abortion, but 2/3 of respondents said they’d felt the church was actually hostile to unwed mothers!
How tragic that it’s Christians — the very people who are most likely to claim to be pro-life — who wind up being responsible for the majority of abortions! Those who aren’t having abortions themselves are all too often among those making unwed pregnancy look like an option worse than abortion! They think they’re condoning premarital sex but in reality, the loudest message they’re sending young women is “if you get pregnant you really have no choice but abortion, unless you want to be shamed and ruined!” This school paints a scarlet “A” on any sexually active girl who gets pregnant – an “A” that only that other “A” (abortion) can wash away.
Heritage need look no further than their own staff to see the impact of an attitude of shame toward unplanned pregnancy. Their 40 year-old athletic director Jessica Klick told New York Times she had two abortions while in her early twenties.
She said she had felt pushed into terminating her pregnancies by her own strict religious upbringing. She was terrified of what her parents would think. When she called a clinic for an appointment, she gave a phony name.
“I went into an abortion clinic knowing I shouldn’t, and God was the last thing on my mind,” she said.
Thankfully for women like Maddi who choose to give birth to the life they brought into existence, not all Christians behave so poorly. Students for Life, together with initiatives Pregnant On Campus and Embrace Grace are currently collecting funds to give Maddi a proper graduation ceremony as well as a baby shower. Please consider a contribution if you are able. Concerned individuals are also being invited to write to Heritage administrator Dave Dodds (firstname.lastname@example.org) to voice their disappointment over the school’s treatment of Maddi. You can also send a message of encouragement to Maddi here.
Not every young woman will have Maddi’s courage or her supportive family, but none should be treated like an outcast for being pregnant. Given the high rate of premarital sex even among Christians, there are certainly going to be plenty more Maddis out there. Even if one believes that the sex that caused the pregnancy was wrong, surely it’s not wrong to be pregnant and to carry and nurture a developing life! If Christians who form the pro-life majority and claim to be pro-life can’t be the loudest voices of support and love for pregnant women, then they are pro-LIE not pro-life. No child should have to be sacrificed on the altar of false chastity!