Maddi Runkles is certainly making news, and unfortunately in ways which doesn’t present the Christian pro-life community in the best — or the most accurate — light. Runkles, 18, confessed her pregnancy and her sin of premarital sex to her class at Heritage Academy, a small non-denominational school. Despite this confession, Runkles will not be able to walk at graduation, and has had her leadership positions revoked.
I can personally relate to Runkles’ story. She’s 18 and I’m 26, so there’s certainly an age and experience gap, but I’ve felt a lot of what she’s shared.
I too found out I was pregnant in January. It was right before my birthday, and I was starting to date someone new after breaking up with boyfriend. I had no idea I had already conceived our daughter. For Runkles, she had just been accepted into Bob Jones University.
I’m proudly pro-life. And yet, in the emotional turmoil surrounding my unplanned pregnancy, I was still angry enough to say I wished I could be the type of person who could at least consider abortion, even if I didn’t truly mean that. As the New York Times reported about Runkles, she “thought fleetingly, she said, of abortion.”
Fortunately for us both — and our children — we chose life. Runkles is still pregnant with her son, having framed a beautiful and precious ultrasound image of him. My daughter, Sophie, just turned nine months old. As I’ve shared, this is definitely a milestone, considering she’s not only been out of the womb for that amount of time, but has been a human being and a person for the nine months she was in the womb as well.
In The New York Times feature, Runkles said that “[h]onestly… maybe the abortion would have been better.” I know what she means and how she feels. However, having my daughter now, even with how difficult parenting can be, I can say with absolute certainly that abortion would not have been better — for me or for other mothers questioning their situations. No matter my struggles, I know that neither Sophie nor I are better off dead with her dead. She has her whole life ahead of her. I can take some comfort and humility in knowing that she has this because of me. I’ve found further comfort in confirming this with a friend of mine who is a priest. Runkles’ son will have his life ahead of him as well, because she chose life.
I’ve written before that, when abortion crossed my mind, I began to wonder if I was really pro-life for having such thoughts. I came to realize, however — and what ultimately brought me peace about my decision — was that my views may have been tested, but what matters is that I passed. Each woman has the strength to pass her own test, should she face it.
In what little Runkles shared about her son’s father, she shared that she does not plan to marry him. That’s okay. Sophie’s father and I saw our daughter as a chance to fall back in love and get back together, and we do plan on getting married. I know people who have had unplanned pregnancies and who are not together with their child’s father, and yet the child still thrives. We could discuss how ideal it is for a child to have both parents in his life and together, but even when that is not an option, a child is never better off dead.
Of course, pregnancies outside of marriage bring up the issue of sin to many. In her open letter to Runkles, Susan-Michelle Hanson reminds that we can be forgiven of sin. I have found comfort in realizing that God forgives and then forgets our sins. Runkles has already had premarital sex and gotten pregnant. Her son is not a sin; he is a blessing. For Christian schools like Heritage, it may be worth considering how to separate wrong choices and their consequences from the blessing that children are and the support that pregnant mothers need in a world that pushes abortion on them.
I personally understand the arguments in favor of abstinence, wishing that I could go back and make that choice again for myself now. I also believe that the pro-life movement is one where we can disagree on the merits of abstinence or sexual education. What should tie us all together is not just our opposition to abortion, but our support for pregnant girls and women like Runkles and her preborn son.
Pregnancy and parenting — even when they are unplanned or may seem untimely — are always worth it. We need to do our best as a movement to emphasize, through our personal stories, our support, and our daily actions, that a choice for life is always the right decision. Let us stand by those who choose life!
- If you are making a decision about abortion, see Clinic Quotes, 10 Reasons Not to Have an Abortion, Abortion Procedures, and What to Do if Your Boyfriend (or Anyone) is Pressuring You to Have an Abortion.
- You can also check out Stand Up Girl and Option Line or Pregnancy Line to find local resources, help, and trained people to talk to in your area.
- See if Save the Storks has a mobile unit in your area!
- If you’ve begun an abortion, taken an abortion pill, and are regretting your decision, the 24-hour, nurse-staffed hotline at Abortion Pill Reversal may be able to give you information on reversing your abortion.
- Men involved in a pregnancy situation can check out Abortion and Men and Abortion Exploits Women.
Editor’s Note: All op-eds are the opinion of the writer, and not necessarily the official position of Live Action.