Maddi Runkles is an 18-year-old student at a Christian high school that refuses to allow her to walk in graduation because she’s pregnant. The story has made national news and many in the pro-life movement have chosen to support Maddi’s fight against the school’s decision. The school, Heritage Academy in Hagerstown, Maryland, claims Maddi is being punished for breaking a pledge she signed not to engage in immoral behavior. However, Maddi says she has already been punished by being removed from leadership positions like student council — and the ability to walk at graduation is taking it too far. She also told Fox News that when other students have broken the pledge — for other “immoral” actions — they were not punished to this extent:
“There have been kids who have broken the student code and they could have hurt people or even gone to jail and they only received an in-school suspension and they’re allowed to walk this year. The school is worried about its reputation, but I think they’re missing out on an incredible opportunity to set an example for the pro-life community and Christian schools about how to treat guys and girls like me.”
While some have argued that Maddi should have to “suffer the consequences” of her actions, not everything is black and white. In this case, the school should be considering how their public shaming of a student might effect other students in the future. Had Maddi not gotten pregnant or instead, chosen abortion, no one would have been the wiser to her broken pledge. She’d have been allowed to walk in graduation, as are any other students in the class who have had sex before marriage that did not result in pregnancy.
It is important for students to be held accountable but the school is walking on thin ice here, by showing students they will be publicly shamed for choosing life. Do we really want to provide incentive for teenagers to choose abortion? Like so many who find themselves in an unplanned pregnancy, Maddi is vulnerable and needs love, grace and support — and we, as pro-lifers, should want more women to feel they have that in these situations.