Pregnancy and the Female Athlete

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This article at Alternet by Melissa Silverstein points out:

Women’s basketball has come a long way since the first game at Smith College on March 21, 1893 — with a major boost from Title IX passage in 1972. It’s no news flash that young women accidentally get pregnant, and Title IX regulations would seem to offer students some protection. They state that recipients of federal funds “must treat disabilities related to pregnancy the same way as any other temporary disability in any medical or hospital benefit, service, plan or policy which they offer to students. … Following this leave, the student must be reinstated to her original status.”

Yet no uniform policy at either the school or professional level protects a pregnant athlete’s rights. The resulting insecurity, especially for athletes on scholarship, can cause women to hide their pregnancies or have abortions. Of course, the guys who get women pregnant suffer no repercussions, financial or otherwise.

Stepping into the void, Elizabeth Sorensen, a nurse and the faculty athletics representative at Wright State University, has become an authority on athletes and pregnancy. She created a policy for Wright State, and is now trying to build momentum for a comprehensive, proactive policy that focuses on an athlete’s well-being. In 2003, she submitted her policy to the NCAA, but the collegiate athletic governing body has not taken up the issue. The women’s community is taking notice, however. The Women’s Sports Foundation is about to release its own position paper on athletic competition and pregnancy, and the National Women’s Law Center has also begun to consider the issue.

Read the whole thing here.

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