Female Wrestler Claims Required Pregnancy Test Violates Rights

A professional wrestler claimed Friday that the state is intruding on her privacy by requiring her to provide proof from her doctor that she is not pregnant within a week of every match.

Julie Utley also said pregnancy testing is too expensive for many women to continue participating in the sport. She estimated it would cost her at least $60 a month for tests.

The rule took effect in November and is part of state requirements for licensing contact sports such as professional boxing, wrestling and martial arts.

Utley, 19, said she has not wrestled since March, when she first became aware of the rule, because she refuses to submit to a pregnancy test.

The Missouri Office of Athletics held a hearing Friday but made no decision on whether to change the rule. The office licenses about 900 boxers and wrestlers, about 100 of them women.

Misti Preston, a spokeswoman for the Department of Economic Development, which oversees the office, said the change did not result from a particular incident. Preston said state officials just wanted to be in line with requirements in many other states.

Opponents said if the state's motive is legal protection, it could make wrestlers sign a waiver saying they will not sue if they get hurt.

"There is a lot of punishment in professional wrestling. I knew the risk. I knew I was going to get injured," Utley said. "That was my personal responsibility. This rule takes control away from me."

Tony Rothert, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, called the rule "an impediment to equality."

In particular, he said, requiring the test to be performed by a doctor, rather than allowing women to use tests sold over the counter, and demanding results so often are troubling.