Reproductive Rights

Olympian Bode Miller Is Not What We’d Call a Champion of Reproductive Rights

His custody battle with an ex proves crucial in the fight for rights for pregnant women.

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Think being pregnant doesn’t preclude you from making life decisions or moving cross-country? Yeah, former Marine and firefighter and current Columbia student Sara McKenna didn’t think so either and now she’s embroiled in an ugly custody battle with the high-profile biological father, Olympic skier Bode Miller. 

After a brief romance with Miller in San Diego, McKenna left the West Coast, seven months pregnant—apparently against the gold medalist’s wishes—to pursue a college degree at Columbia University in New York on the G.I. Bill, which has a new parent support program. The exes were already embroiled in a battle about who would take care of their future child: Miller took this opportunity to accuse McKenna of fleeing with their fetus. A New York judge agreed (a family court referee called her relocation “unjustifiable conduct” because autonomy is only for the non-impregnated?), allowing a California court to grant Miller physical custody of the baby that was born in February. Women’s rights advocates swiftly swept in to help McKenna get the case to a NY appeals court. On November 14, according to the New York Times, the court said “Ms. McKenna’s basic rights had been violated, adding, ‘Putative fathers have neither the right nor the ability to restrict a pregnant woman from her constitutionally protected liberty.” A new NY-based proceeding starts this week that might switch custody of the pair’s now-nine-month-old son (who McKenna calls Sam and Miller calls Nate—yes, they’re even fighting over the name) to McKenna, which, considering the current climate of personhood debates, would be a huge win for wombs everywhere (not to mention the women they belong to).

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