Maddi Runkles, 18, from Boonsboro, Mayland, attends Heritage Academy, a small private Christian school in Hagerstown. Runkles is on the eve of graduation but will not be allowed to participate in the ceremony because she is pregnant.
Runkles discovered she was pregnant in January, just a few days after receiving a college acceptance letter, according to the New York Times.
She was suspended by her school for two days after revealing her pregnancy and she was also removed from her position on student council and told she would not be allowed to join her senior class at graduation in June.
Runkles feels as if she has been treated particularly harshly by the school.
‘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,’ Runkles told the Times, speaking about her school.
‘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.’
Her situation underlines the tension that exists in many Christian organizations that do not condone abortion or sex before marriage. Anti-abortion organization Students for Life do not believe Runkles should be punished and also praise her for keeping the baby.
‘There has got to be a way to treat a young woman who becomes pregnant in a graceful and loving way,’ Students for Life president Kristan Hawkins told the Times.
According to the New York Times, Runkles unsuccessfully tried to lobby the school to change its decision.
Heritage Academy Administrator David Hobbs issued a statement calling Runkles’ pregnancy ‘an internal issue about which much prayer and discussion has taken place’.
The 18-year-old told the Times that the child’s father does not go to Heritage and the two do not plan on getting married.
Heritage is a Christian school serving grades through K-12. It has been providing religious education for more than 45 years.