Saturday, December 17, 2011

"Sorry, madam - turns out you can do that here" - more breastfeeding in public news

They seem to come in waves, working their way through my Google Reader. Stories from the World (but mostly the US, UK and Australia) about women erroneously told they cannot breastfeed in some public space.

The stories tend to come in similar installments:

  • The mother's outrage
  • The apology
  • The opinions
  • The protest
For some reason, the second point rarely gets the coverage the others do and so the message retained by the masses is "the mother was wrong" - even when relevant laws, company policies and other facts are highlighted.

So, what's currently doing the rounds in the blogosphere?

Breastfeeding 'too wild'
A BREASTFEEDING mum has received an apology from a Queensland water-slide park where she was instructed not to breastfeed in public.
Two weeks after the incident Ms Lang made a complaint to the theme park and was happy with the response.
"The lady I spoke to was fantastic. She didn't try and make excuses, she addressed it and apologised and said they will put measures in place to train staff members on the correct way to deal with this sort of situation."
Wet'n'Wild spokeswoman Renee Soutar said women are "absolutely" welcome to breastfeed in the park.
"We have never experienced a guest breast-feeding while riding one of our rides (the Calypso Beach attraction) before and so the lifeguards asked Ms Lang to stop breastfeeding as they felt it may have been a safety risk to her and her baby. Staff are to be given training and we are very sorry for any inconvenience to Ms Lang," she said.

Target Employees Harrass Nursing Mother
"Target were aware of our legal rights as nursing mothers, but that Target has different policies because they are a family friendly public place."

(This is great - Target (USA) feel they can ignore the law if it differs from company policy ... the mind boggles with potential exemptions!)
However, when she called Target's national hotline, she was told that the employee and store manager were the ones in the wrong and that corporate policy was that nursing mothers were welcome in Target stores. As such, Target has responded with a public apology and the following statement:

"Target has a long-standing practice that supports breastfeeding in our stores. We apologize for any inconvenience the guest experienced and will take this opportunity to reaffirm this commitment with our team members," company representative Kristi Arndt said.

"For guests in our stores, we support the use of fitting rooms for women who wish to breastfeed their babies, even if others are waiting to use the fitting rooms. In addition, guests who choose to breastfeed discreetly in more public areas of the store are welcome to do so without being made to feel uncomfortable.
Breastfeeding mom accused of indecent exposure, files charges
A breastfeeding mother in Washington was recently told by security guards to stop feeding her four-month-old baby in the Henry J. Daley government building, in Washington, because it was "indecent"
In a blog post Dos Santos writes in the Washington Post, the attorney said, "In a stern voice, a guard who was monitoring the metal detectors at the building's entrance, told me I could not sit on the floor. I acknowledged her but continued to nurse.
"I planned to get up once he was finished eating. But the guard was adamant. I removed my son, buttoned my shirt, and slowly stood up. But I knew he wasn’t finished eating. So I leaned against the wall and started to nurse again."
That's when the second guard approached Dos Santos and said because the area was "public" she was guilty of "indecent exposure" of her breast. Dos Santos questioned the guard who reportedly said, "Well, this is a government building, and you can't breastfeed in a public corridor of a government building!"
Dos Santos cited, according to the District of Columbia Breastfeeding Coalition which says, "On December 7, 2007 Mayor Adrian M. Fenty signed a new law. This law is called the “Child’s Right to Nurse Human Rights Amendment Act of 2007” (Bill B17-0133). The law makes it legal to breastfeed ANYWHERE a woman has the right to be with her child in DC."
The attorney says she then called her office and asked about the law, and in Washington DC, and 28 other states, breastfeeding is exempt from public indecency laws. Additionally, according to National Conference of State Legislatures, the District of Columbia is one of many states and districts which have a law that "specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location."


This Is a Courtroom - Laws Don't Apply Here
Natalie Hegedus of Michigan was recently in court to contest a boating ticket, and while waiting for her case to be called, she began nursing her 5-month-old son.

When her case was announced, though, she approached the bench with her baby still suckling away, at which point Hegedus had the following exchange with Judge Robert Hentchel:

Hentchel: "You think that's appropriate in here?"

Hegedus: "It's not against the law; I have to feed my son."

Hentchel: "Ma'am, it's my courtroom, I decide what's appropriate in here . . . . You have to understand that a judge-the laws don't apply in a courtroom. The judge's law applies, do you understand that?"

We need to stay tuned on this one, as there doesn't seem to be a resolution, other than "Michigan isn’t one of the 45 states that allows women to breastfeed anytime and anywhere." which just shows they need to get their act together and join the rest of the country!

In fact, three out of four of these women is protected by relevant laws in her State and/or Country and those laws should still apply when you are in Target or a court of law.

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