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Teen gives birth after Christian school graduation controversy

Maddi Runkles and her baby boy Greyson pose for a portrait in front of a truck sponsored by Students for Life of America and filled with 328,348 baby socks. Photo courtesy of Students for Life of America

Maddi Runkles and her baby boy Greyson pose for a portrait in front of a truck sponsored by Students for Life of America and filled with 328,348 baby socks. Photo courtesy of Students for Life of America

(RNS) — Maddi Runkles, the pregnant student who was not allowed to cross the graduation stage at her Maryland Christian school in June, has given birth to a boy.

“My family and I are doing great,” Runkles said in a statement provided to The Herald-Mail in Hagerstown, Md., by a spokesman for Students for Life of America.

“Greyson was born Aug. 31, so we’re still adjusting to having a newborn in the house. My parents and brother are an extremely big help.”

Runkles was barred from taking part in the June graduation ceremony for her class of 15 students at Heritage Academy near Hagerstown, in the western part of the state, “because she was immoral,” school administrator David R. Hobbs said the week before the ceremony.

Students for Life, an anti-abortion group, mounted a campaign urging the school to reverse its plans. The 18-year-old senior received her diploma in a private ceremony instead.

“Heritage is also pleased that she has chosen to not abort her son,” Hobbs wrote at the time. “However, her immorality is the original choice she made that began this situation.”


RELATED: ‘Because she was immoral’: Christian school defends decision to deny pregnant teen graduation ‘walk’


The administrator noted that students sign a Bible-based pledge that “extends to my actions, such as protecting my body by abstaining from sexual immorality and from the use of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs.”

At the time of the graduation, Runkles declined to name the baby’s father but said he was not an academy student and they do not plan to marry.

With the birth of her son, Runkles is pausing from academic studies but intends to further her education.

Runkles’ son Greyson lies on a massive pile of socks that partially fill a truck sponsored by Students for Life of America. Photo courtesy of Students for Life of America

“I decided to take the fall semester off of school so I can get settled into being a new mom, and not rush into classes yet,” she said in her statement. “I will be starting classes in the spring.”

She plans to enroll in a local community college and take online classes at Bob Jones University, a conservative Christian school in Greenville, S.C.

Runkles said making her situation public “was worth it” despite the loss of friends in the process.

“But in the long run, it’s small in comparison to what I have now — my son and the opportunity to reach so many people,” she said.

Runkles and her son have appeared in photos of Students for Life’s campaign that is asking Congress to defund Planned Parenthood, a group that supports women’s reproductive choices, including abortion.

About the author

Adelle M. Banks

Adelle M. Banks, production editor and a national reporter, joined RNS in 1995. An award-winning journalist, she previously was the religion reporter at the Orlando Sentinel and a reporter at The Providence Journal and newspapers in the upstate New York communities of Syracuse and Binghamton.

9 Comments

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  • This sort of thing happens every now and again. The right wing insists it is “pro-life” only to reveal later that slut-shaming is the only part of being pro-life they enjoy,

  • I like the top photo there, with Maddi Runkles standing with her baby in front of the Pro-Life truck.

    The previous situation was a tough one for all sides. The school admins had to make a serious accountability decision, and they correctly did so. Runkles, to her credit, at least abided by the decision.

    Now that the issue is behind them, Runkles and her little boy are apparently moving forward, and socking it to Planned Parenthood like a couple of champs. That’s a pretty good outcome.

  • I like that young unmarried women don’t have to be sent to a home for unwed mothers. I like that women legally have a choice to terminate their pregnancy if they want. I even like that you anti-abortionists have the right to protest against a legal procedure and villify Planned Parenthood.

  • How come nobody mentions that far more than abortions, Planned Parenthood helps young women avoid unwanted pregnancies?

  • Its politically inconvenient for fetus worshiper views. Behind all anti-abortion rhetoric is a desire to attack women.

  • Yes. She had a choice, as it should be. Other people might make a different choice, and that is okay also.

    Contraception from Planned Parenthood prevents the need for either choice. And helps ensure all babies are born to parents with the emotional and financial resources to care for them.

  • Planned Parenthood “ensures” some other things too. Especially in minority localities. (The majority of PP abortion facilities are located in or near such areas.)

    After all, PP founder Margaret Sanger wanted her “human weeds” mowed down with gusto!!

  • Its worth a read of the comments on the linked article from a few months back and then you will know why. Personally, I have been waiting for comments from a few folks about her not marrying the father.but going out of state to university instead..

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