After discovering her pregnancy in January, Runkles said that her parents and church supported her decision to carry the baby to term. Her Catholic high school, on the other hand, decided to punish her.
Heritage Academy officials removed Runkles from her position on the school's student council, suspended her for two days, and barred her from joining the rest of the senior class for their graduation ceremony in June.
Runkles' father was on the same board that chose to remove Runkles from her student council position. Her father told The Times he left the board once he saw how his daughter was being treated.
“Typically, when somebody breaks a rule, you punish them at the time they break the rule. That way, the punishment is behind them and they’re moving forward with a clean slate,” he said. “With Maddi, her punishment was set four months out. It’s ruined her senior year.”
Runkles agreed that by having sex she had gone against the rules set by her high school.
Runkles was certain Heritage Academy would punish her for her pregnancy “because I did break the school code.” The school's policy on sex says “no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of the marriage commitment between a man and a woman.”
Still, after considering abortion, Runkles decided to go forward with her pregnancy and share the news with administrators and her older classmates. “I told on myself,” Runkles said in the interview with The Times. “I asked for forgiveness. I asked for help.”
While most of the students supported Runkles, the pregnant teen said that she still feels shamed for her decision to remain pregnant. At school she dons a jacket over her uniform to hide her growing stomach.
“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,” she said. “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.”
So if students are not supposed to have sex, get pregnant, or have an abortion, what are they to do when they do end up getting pregnant?
The school's answer to that is still out. An administrator at Heritage Academy said in a statement that Runkles would earn a diploma, and that her pregnancy was “an internal issue about which much prayer and discussion has taken place.”
Well, dang. Guess it's nice to know exactly *how* your religion will choose to have your back when times are tough.
Runkles' story is a classic example of the glaring hypocrisy unwed Christian mothers face when they choose to go with the teachings of their faith and carry a pregnancy to term. Runkles had the right to opt for an abortion after finding out she was pregnant, but made a pro-life choice that aligned with her Christian beliefs.
It's hard not to wonder what other girls at that school will do in a similar situation. No doubt that in an already extremely difficult situation for these girls, this school fills their choices with reluctance, shame, and self-doubt.