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Bode Miller’s custody battle raises concerns about womens’ rights while pregnant

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    Nov. 25: Olympic alpine skier Bode Miller arrives with his wife Morgan and his son at Manhattan's Family Court. (Reuters)

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    Nov. 25: Sara McKenna, former Marine who was briefly involved with Olympic alpine skier Bode Miller, carries her son while they leave Manhattan's Family Court. (Reuters)

A New York court called the move by a woman who briefly dated and got pregnant by Olympic gold medal skier Bode Miller 'reprehensible' after she moved from California to New York while pregnant to attend school.

Those remarks came after Miller contended that his former flame, Sara A. McKenna, moved to the Empire State, or, as he sees it, the land of sympathetic judges to women, last December when she was seven months pregnant so she could keep the baby from him.

The baby was born and McKenna filed for temporary custody in New York. A Family Court judge said she was 'forum shopping' and decided to leave the case in California, The New York Times reported. A California court, after learning of her move, granted custody of the baby to the skier, the report said.

"I've never heard of a restriction on a pregnant woman telling her that she can't move to another state"

- Lee-Ford Tritt, an attorney

But an appeals court last month overturned that decision, and a Manhattan family court on Monday stripped Miller of his temporary custody, resulting in a reunion between the boy and his mother, the New York Post reported.

The next court hearing is scheduled for Dec. 9.

The hotly contested court battle is taking place at family court in New York and, pending the outcome, may deal what some perceive as a substantial blow to the rights of women.

"I've never heard of a restriction on a pregnant woman telling her that she can't move to another state," Lee-Ford Tritt, a law professor at University of Florida, told Slate, in a piece titled: "A Woman's Right to Move." “I’m outraged by this idea that they even ask about her motive."

According to reports, the couple's split appeared to be conclusive, with neither interested in prolonging the relationship. When she requested that Miller join her during an ultrasound, Miller reportedly messaged her that he would not join her, texting, "U made this choice against my wish." However, in November 2012, he filed a "Petition to Establish Parental Relationship."

Miller got married; McKenna started studying at Columbia University.

"Especially with current political pressures to recognize separate legal rights  for fetuses, there will be increasing calls on the courts to fault a pregnant woman for moving, to restrain women from living their lives because they're pregnant," said Sarah E. Burns, the head of the Reproductive Justice Clinic at the New York University law school.

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