STUDENT-discipline officers, for many years now, have been refusing admission to unmarried pregnant students, saying they might scandalize and influence others. Another supposed “reason,” according to sources, is that these expectant mothers should rather devote their time and health on their pregnancy.

Monkey see, monkey do? A student would hardly be “influenced” to go heavy with child just because she has a classmate with a bulging belly. It is one thing to frown on premarital sex, and it’s another to banish those who, due to passion, immaturity, or circumstances, fail the chastity ideal and are now with child. The failure of a teen mother could well be the failure of a school to educate her on sex in loco parentis, and so it is a school’s duty not to wash its hands off.

In these days of Church advocacy against abortion, the more the University should admit unmarried pregnant students. This would be a statement that a woman in her untimely pregnancy should stand for life despite her “mistake,” and that the school and the Church are willing to reach out even as the parents or the partner may be unwilling to support the pregnancy.

The “rest cure,” reportedly being advised by the disciplinarians, is incredulous. Academic requirements are mental and are not physically jolting. No credible physician would tell a woman to absolve herself from study or work just because of pregnancy. On the contrary, they are being advised to stay active and to exercise, so contractions during delivery can be easy. The traditional primadonna motherhood makes fat mothers, not healthy babies.

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Ultimately, the “unwritten policy” is sexist. Since only women get pregnant, discriminating unmarried pregnant students is discriminating against women, while unmarried men who impregnate women go scot-free. The policy is neither preventive of premarital sex. In fact, sexually active students can just hook into contraception and abortion to prevent pregnancy.

Let’s face it. Teen pregnancies are up and it would not help keeping all pregnant students away from school. This only makes their pregnancy all the more “unwanted.” Ask your nearest college guidance counselor. You will be shocked to hear how frequent they have to entertain cases of students contemplating abortion for fear of academic sanctions. If we were to dismiss into oblivion pregnant teens to prevent “scandal,” then we would be like the hypocritical fundamentalists who stone unmarried pregnant women “to teach others a lesson.”

Top Catholic and secular universities like Harvard, Berkeley, Stanford, Georgetown, Marquette, Loyola-Baltimore, and Notre Dame universities, instead of kicking out unmarried pregnant students, even provide them multiple services: from health care, to counseling, to campus ministry, to deans’ support. The result? The Guttmacher Institute reports that abortions among college-based women declined by 30 per cent in the US, a decade after this move in Catholic universities started in 1994. (Abortion was legalized in America after the Roe vs. Wade case, partly when “Roe’s” lawyer argued that an unmarried pregnant woman cannot complete her education.)

Pregnancy is supposed to be good news. It can be distressing until we work for a way for every child to be welcome. If rules can’t be bent for the unwed expectant mother, then do so for the child’s sake. One does not protect the pregnant woman by joining the shame campaign. Depriving her of Catholic education and formation will only spell more trouble.

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Let us just think what Jesus would probably do in this case. He welcomed the “sinful” Mary Magdalene, even took her into his circle of friends, to teach and educate her. He did not kick her out of his school of life, neither did he refuse his other fallen disciples. In fact, Jesus came precisely for these people.

What Christian mandate then does any administrator have to refuse educating the pregnant “sinfuls” in this Pontifical and Catholic University? What affair has anyone to pressure a girl to marry, not really for love, but for the “shame” of her out-of-wedlock pregnancy? Rather, UST should go this far—extending pregnant student services, and be liberal about being charitable.


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