Sunday, June 17, 2007

NCAA Female Athletes Get Abortions To Retain Scholarships

I saw this on

On the road that leads to Clemson, S.C., billboards sponsored by an anti-abortion group dot the highway with the phrase "Pregnant & Scared?" plastered in large letters. They are an ominous backdrop for Clemson University, where at least seven current or recently graduated student-athletes terminated their pregnancies, primarily because they were afraid of losing their athletic scholarships.

"I have a couple teammates that have had abortions due to the fact that they knew they weren't going to get their scholarship back," said a female student-athlete at Clemson, who asked not to be identified. "But like an actual teammate having a child, and coming back and earning a scholarship, that's a situation that hasn't happened."

In the fall of 2006, that same athlete discovered she was pregnant for the second time. She said her first thoughts were for her future.

"How could this happen?" she said, shaking her head in disbelief. "My career was going to end. I'm not going to go to the Olympics or get to finish my four years. I was just like, 'This is a dead-end road. You're not going anywhere else.'"

Searching for answers, she said she turned to a Clemson administrator.

"She was just like, 'You know that's going to be hard? Everything that you got … gone,'" the athlete said, recounting her conversation. "And she was like, 'Just think about your options. You know Coach isn't going to give you back your scholarship just like that. If she finds out and if you decide to keep it, that's gone.'"

The student-athlete said she was asked to sign a team document prior to the 2005 season that stated: "Pregnancy resulting in the inability to compete and positively contribute to the program's success will result in the modification of your grant-in-aid money."

"There was actually a policy about loss of scholarship, loss of privileges due to pregnancy," she said.

Remembering the administrator's counsel and the previous year's team policy, the athlete said the fear of losing her scholarship played a large role in her decision to have a second abortion.

"On a scale from 1 to 10, it was like a 9," she said. "It had a big, big part in my decision, because that's the first thing I thought about, I'm losing my scholarship."
The story goes on to talk about discrimination against female athletes for getting pregnant and while I'm not sure if I'm qualified to decide whether or not this is a case of discrimination, I do see a problem here and the need for a solution.

This is a multifaceted and complicated problem because the girl clearly has not exercised responsibility to her team. I think this is an important point, one not to be over looked. Becoming pregnant makes one unavailable to the team and in effect a non-member for at least a period of time. These girls are receiving this scholarship money so that they can get an education with the understanding that they will maintain certain health conditions to participate on the team. Why should the team provide the scholarship money to a player who cannot perform? This isn't like the case of a player becoming injured in the course of their athletic activity, this girl made a conscious choice to have sex. (Especially a second time!!!)

I have known a few college athletes and they all have been very careful about how they treat their bodies, everything from what they eat, to how they exercise, to excusing themselves from simple games like capture the flag with friends because they could risk injury. This is practicing a healthy responsibility to themselves and their team. Why do these young women think that they are exceptions?

Now, for the other side of the spectrum. These are young women who obviously have made mistakes and need forgiveness and help. They must not be cast out because of a lapse in judgement and a solution must be found to help them carry their pregnancy to term and then care for the child while they finish school. One way this can be done is through some kind of financial aid, either through a separate scholarship for student mothers or another means. I am all for this. However, I do not understand why the athletic department should provide monies to a person who may never contribute to the team again. Alternative options must be provided these women so that abortion is not considered an option for them. We have to find a way to save child and mother.
In addition, these schools should not be afraid to educate these women about premarital sex and promote chastity on campus. I know what you are thinking, "The day that happens, hell will freeze over," but if we claim to have these women's best interest in mind, these are the things that should be promoted.

In closing, I would just like to point out how this is yet again an example of a woman choosing to have an abortion, not because she feels the need for choice but because she feels she has no choice.

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