Three University of St. Thomas professors are involved in the legal battle on behalf of a pregnant part-time United Parcel Service driver. They have some unusual partners.

Oral arguments took place on Wednesday before the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., over the driver's claim that UPS would not accommodate her condition in violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

She lost seven months' wages and her medical insurance after the company refused to reduce the weight of packages she had to lift to no more than 20 pounds, as her doctor recommended.

Two professors from St. Thomas' law school, Teresa Stanton Collet and Tom Berg, were among the primary drafters and organizers of an amicus brief, which included 23 groups opposing abortion, in support of the driver, Peggy Young. A third professor, Elizabeth Schiltz, also helped on the brief. The university's Prolife Center was one of the groups on the brief.

On the same side of the issue was the national American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which supports legal abortion. It also filed a brief supporting Young.

"I think this is testament to the fact this is an issue that anyone who supports women can get behind, whether you are prolife, prochoice, or agnostic on this particular issue …" Schiltz said.

It's a big issue for abortion foes. "When you have the choice between keeping your job, especially if you are single mother, and carrying your child, you feel pressure to terminate that pregnancy," said Berg, who attended the hearing.

Although the ACLU and abortion opponents have often tangled, Lenora Lapidus, director of the ACLU's Women's Rights Project and author of the ACLU brief, said she did not find the coalition odd "because we all support the right of pregnant women to maintain their jobs and have healthy pregnancies."

She also listened to the oral arguments. "We are hopeful," she said. "We think the law is clear, that it requires employers like UPS to provide these accommodations."

Randy Furst • 612-673-4224