A couple of weeks ago, we learned about Maddi Runkles, an excellent student at Maryland’s (Christian) Heritage Academy who got pregnant and created a visible sign that she had broken her school’s no-sex policy. Because of that, she was told she couldn’t graduate with her classmates and would receive her diploma separately.
As the narrative around her story went, this was a clear sign of pro-life hypocrisy. This girl got pregnant, chose to keep the baby, and was punished for it. Had she gotten an abortion and not told anyone, she would’ve been able to graduate alongside her classmates. Was this really the lesson the school wanted to teach students?
Now, Runkles has written her own account of the story for the Washington Post.
While most of it just confirms the story we already knew, there’s one part that stands out:
After [telling classmates I was pregnant], I got involved with Students for Life of America, as I wanted to use my story to help other girls like me. Part of their mission is to help pregnant girls and teenage mothers on campuses like myself who are treated unfairly. They had seen similar situations and after trying to persuade the school privately, which was unsuccessful, we decided to take my story to the media in hopes to create a national conversation about how girls like me should be treated.
When girls like me who go to pro-life schools make a brave pro-life decision, we shouldn’t be hidden away in shame. The sin that got us into this situation is not worth celebrating, but after confession and forgiveness take place, we should be supported and treated like any other student. What we are going through is tough enough. Having to deal with the added shame of being treated like an outcast is nothing that any girl should have to go through.
It’s that kind of thinking that makes me let go of any sympathy I have for her.
If it was a “brave” decision to keep the baby, only to be shamed for it later, imagine how much harder it must be for the student who makes a different decision. Forget making that woman feel bad for a little while; many Christians will refer to her as a “baby-killer.” That is, if she can even obtain the procedure considering all the ways Christians want to block that ability.
Runkles chose to have sex, she chose to keep the baby, and she wants us to feel bad for her because of how she was treated. Meanwhile, “pro-life” groups like the one she now belongs to regularly advocate for laws that would force women to bear even their rapists’ babies.
If Runkles is a “brave” young woman for having to deal with all those Christians looking down upon her, then what do we call the young women who have to overcome all the obstacles Christians place in their way so they can exercise the same choice Runkles got to make?
Or does choice only matter to Runkles when they agree with her?
You only see variations of the word “choice” once in the article, right in the headline, which she probably didn’t write. But make no mistake: This whole situation stems from a choice Runkles made, which she now wants to prevent others from making.
So let’s continue to point out the hypocrisy of the Christian school, but there’s no reason to feel bad for the student until she acknowledges that not all women want to (or have to) go down the same road. They deserve the right to make that decision for themselves, just like she did.
(Image via Shutterstock)