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December 24th, 2009 by Dr. Phil

Pregnant Pause

teen pregnancy2OK, did you see this in the news from my old stomping grounds in Texas? Mackenzie McCollum, a pregnant 17-year-old high school volleyball player in Fort Worth, Texas, has filed a federal civil-rights complaint after her coach first benched her for several games this season and then later required her to get a doctor’s permission before she could continue playing. She alleges the coach and school discriminated against her by not letting her play, and therefore, she may have lost the chance at getting a college athletic scholarship. Hmmm. 

The coach and his bosses at the school district contend that their primary consideration must be for the health and safety of one of their students, especially one who happened to be carrying an unborn child. 

Let me say from the outset, I’m the last person in the world who will ever condone teenage pregnancy. I am sickened when I read that unplanned pregnancies among teenagers are on the rise again. Children having children is never, ever, a good idea.  I guess the question the court will be asked to decide, if the case goes forward, is whether or not the teen mother-to-be was damaged by the school’s actions, or was it right to act to protect the mother and her unborn child? Again, hmmm.

As a former litigation strategist and consultant, I feel I could argue either side effectively. Federal Title 9 law prevents sex discrimination in education, and that includes classification based on a student’s pregnancy. So she is going to have an argument to make in court.

Still, what would you do here? After all, we’re not talking about croquet. We are talking about competitive volleyball, where players often have to “dig” for the ball by making diving moves toward the floor. If you were the coach of MacKenzie’s team, how comfortable would you feel watching her trot out on the floor (she was four months pregnant when she was benched)? Even though MacKenzie did get a statement from a doctor saying she was perfectly capable of competing, as long as she did not dive too aggressively for balls and land on her stomach, would you truly feel comfortable letting her play?

I do admire MacKenzie for having the courage to go public and fight for what she sees as her athletic rights. I also hope she is working even harder to prepare herself to be a good parent at such a young age — which is her ultimate challenge. Getting a scholarship could pay for an education that could help provide for her child, but either way, she has a long, long road ahead. 

So: Let her play, or sit her down? You make the call.

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108 Responses to “Pregnant Pause”

  1. FullMetalJ says:

    Thoroughly agree with Pointedly Anonymous. And beautifully written, I might add. ;)

    What I’d like to know is since when is it ‘all the girl’s fault’ for becoming pregnant? Last time I checked there was no such thing as immaculate conception…Unfortunately there are too many men ducking out on their responsibilities in the matter. Society seems to think that the woman is at fault for becoming pregnant, and then if the fathering male throws some money (child support) at her, well then it’s all well and justified on his part. I call bullsh!t on that.

    Perhaps we as a society ought to come down a bit hasher…perhaps if a male who ‘gets a girl pregnant’ and then fails to uphold responsibility is castrated, maybe these males would think twice before acting upon their impulses. After all, you don’t want one at a time you think you’re responsible for sex yet unwilling to deal with consequences, so why give them the chance for another? Granted, women may not always want that male around or necessarily involved in the child’s life, but I’m still ironing out the details of my plan, as it were. ;)

  2. jon says:

    You were provided false information. While it is true that her original Doctor’s note included the stipulations that barred her from “contact” (not diving) and required she keep her HR under 140BPM, a second Doctor’s note included no such stipulations.

    Before posting someones life as an interesting tidbit to hem and haw over maybe next time get your facts straight. You are a medical professional and as such you should hold yourself to a higher standard than Joe Average Blogger.

  3. Susan says:

    In cases such as this one, I believe the school has the right to make the final decision whether a pregnant teenage girl should play volleyball or if she will sit on the sidelines. I don’t see anything wrong for the school to err on the side of caution, and protect the soon-to-be-born child from possible harm and protect the school from possible lawsuits which could result from allowing her to play. If the school has the right to make that decision, it doesn’t matter whether she was given permission from her doctor to play or not.

  4. Susan says:

    Dr. Phil, since this thread touches on the serious problem of teen pregnancy, I wonder if more cannot be done to PREVENT more teen pregnancies from occurring.

    As I perceive it, here are the three biggest negative consequences of sex with partners:

    1. Unwanted pregnancy
    2. Incurable or fatal sexually transmitted diseases
    3. Possible violations of age of consent laws, which could mean prison sentences

    Focusing on unwanted pregnancy for now, this consequence alone has a list of at least ten unwanted questions and unpleasant complications that no teenage girl wants in her life:

    1. Deciding whether to abort or continue the pregnancy
    2. Deciding whether to keep the baby or have the baby adopted
    3. Deciding whether she or her parents will raise the baby if she decides to be a teen mom
    4. Worry that her parents might throw her out of her home if she gets pregnant
    5. Having to decide if she will drop out of school, get a job and cope with teen motherhood
    6. Having to handle the endless chores and very HARD WORK of being a teen mom
    7. Having to give up all the fun school activities and other things she now enjoys
    8. Having to accept the possibility of poor-quality jobs as a result of inadequate education
    9. Having to accept the possibility of giving up her dreams of going into college and post-graduate study
    10. Having to accept the possibility of a far lower standard of living due to an inadequate education

    All of these negative consequences, and the complications that arise from each, can all be avoided when teenagers make it a priority to AVOID partnered sexual activity while in middle school, high school, and all other educational levels afterward.

    I believe that a good, comprehensive sex ed program is also important for teens to get all the facts. Then again, I also believe that by practicing abstinence while at all educational levels, teenage girls and guys get all the benefits of the best education they can obtain, good-quality employment after their education is completed, and a the chance of a high standard of living as well. And if anyone thinks a short message that promotes the positives of teen abstinence would help, here’s one:

    Abstinence = FREEDOM
    All consequences avoided

  5. Becky says:

    This was beautifully written.

    I loved it. But, we need to find another way to teach children that abstinence is freedom. Obviously, the long lectures and telling them that if they do have sex that they need to where a condom. That just doesnt work. They still dont seem to listen. For example; A child at my daughters school had sex she was bragging about it until she realized she was pregnanate. Now i see a problem with that. She was BRAGGING about having sex. We want to prevent that. I think that we should still have the little lectures about not having sex and the outcomes of having sex. But i also think that children shouldnt read or watch sexual things. That is what triggers their hormones right. And have the ladies dress less sexy like.

    All in All, just stop teen pregnancy!!

  6. Lexi Rosado. says:

    I had sex.

    I admit it.

    I should listen to adults more. I feel so violated. We were at the movies and we did in the back of his friends truck. I feel soo stupid. I would like to put something on here though.

    ** Any teenager reading this. Just dont have sex. It may make you feel good. It may make you feel better about yourself. It may make you feel older. It may make you feel FREE. But, there are alot of consequences of having sex. HPV, STD. Name calling. PREGNANCY. Take it from me. You may think it is cool that your pregnate at first, but when you have that baby. Dang, you will sure miss being a normal teenager again. It absolutly Sucks being a mom. I can go hang with my friends anymore. I cant go to any football, basketball or baseball games anymore. I cant go to the pool anymore. I go to school. Go to work. Watch my kid. It sucks. Dont be a hoe like me and just say no. Oh and another consequence is IM FAT! Try going from a size 2-3 to a 14. It sucks. Thats another reason i dont go to the pool. So just say no… (;

  7. Cynthia says:

    First of all it would not have been an issue with my daughter because if my daughter gets pregnant she forfeits the ability to play any teem sports or do any extra curricular activities out side of regular classes. and secondly i dont commend her bravery for standing up for her self it sounds more like a selfish spoiled brat because she cant get her way. In volley ball she would either have to risk landing on her stomach or some other trauma or not play to her fullest ability either option is selfish. either the team suffers or her baby suffers because of her irresponsible decision.

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