Are Colleges Killing Babies?

Jeanne Sager

pregnant bellyThe stories of college girls who get pregnant and then kill their babies out of fear of losing their scholarship crop up once in awhile, and they're always disturbing. But new evidence that these girls' fears are often completely unfounded is even worse.

The Guardian, a college paper at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, tackled the issue this month in a short piece that revealed many students simply don't know the nitty gritty of their college's pregnancy policy.

It's a serious enough issue -- and widespread enough -- that the NCAA has made it a priority to protect pregnant women rather than leave them hanging, wondering if they'll lose their scholarships and likely their only chance at an education.

It's the threat of a lost scholarship to a female player that's been cited repeatedly as a reason for these killings.

Yet the NCAA guidelines for member schools stipulate:

"Athletics awards cannot include a clause that would make pregnancy an infraction of the terms of the award."

"Once an athletics award has been made (typically for one-year) it cannot be withdrawn due to pregnancy, suspected pregnancy, parenthood, or termination of pregnancy. As long as a student-athlete remains in good standing academically and does not withdraw voluntarily, a pregnant student-athlete’s scholarship is protected from being reduced or withdrawn in a number of ways."

Even schools that preclude a girl from having premarital sex in their student-athlete contracts are required to enforce the same rules on male student-athletes -- which would mean if the father is an athlete, he too would see his scholarship withdrawn in case of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy.

So why are women still being treated like their pregnancies are problems that must be hidden or -- worse -- done away with?

Because the kids don't know about the rule changes. And according to the article in The Guardian, the schools are failing to educate kids on their choices.

The especially harrowing tales come from faith-based schools. Although subject to the NCAA rules, the basic tenets of the faiths disprove of both premarital sex and pregnancy outside of marriage, and abortion is flat out never an option.

It leads to cases like that of Teri Rhodes, a sophomore volleyball player at Catholic Mercyhurst College who was charged with suffocating her baby minutes after giving birth in 2007, or Kathryn McCoy, a golfer at Catholic Kentucky University Bellarmine who was accused and eventually cleared on charges of killing her baby after she gave birth (she hid the body in the dorm, but a jury determined he was already dead).

It can be argued that college students are of legal age and should be able to read the NCAA website. Technically, colleges are NOT killing babies any more than McDonald's is making you fat.

But orientations at every college in the country include the most basic of information about the school. Would it be too hard to lay out the facts about pregnancy discrimination and students' rights at the beginning of every year too?

It could prevent more than a few tragedies.


Image via Hafdis H/Flickr

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