It’s difficult to get into words how absolutely shocked I was to hear that a Whole Foods in my area discriminated against a mom for breastfeeding her son while shopping. Whole Foods where it says right in the store’s name their philosophy of eating discriminates against the whole-est food of all? It just doesn’t make sense.
What this really brings to light is how little breastfeeding mothers in my area (Utah) are protected in these types of situations. This article in the Salt Lake Tribune has quotes from Jake Aryeh Marcus explaining the flaws of Utah’s law. The basic problem is that it protects women from something they don’t need to be protected from–being charged for public indecency. She talks about how this is a phoney law because no mom has ever been charged with such a thing and moms still can be harassed or even kicked out of a business for feeding their child.
This is all just so outrageous that I can’t even wrap my head around it. I can’t believe that our government will spend countless dollars promoting “Breast is Best” (which is wrong because breast is normal), but they can’t create a law that protects the moms who are currently breastfeeding. So we should do what is best, but not leave our house during that recommended 6 months that a baby stays exclusively breastfed and only leave around feedings when they continue to breastfeed at least another 1.5 years beyond that? And don’t even tell me to pump and use a bottle because if you say that you obviously haven’t ever been in that situation and I’ll tell you where to stick that bottle.
So what can you do? First off, attend your local Whole Foods Nurse-In tomorrow (mine is at 3:00PM in at the Trolley Square location). Even if you’re not currently nursing, you can come just to show your support. You can bet my husband will be there with me wearing his “Real Men Support Breastfeeding” t-shirt (which everyone loved at the Big Latch On and Babywearing Flash Mob). There are events in nearly every state and you can find them through the Whole Foods National Nurse-In Facebook page. You can also boycott Whole Foods and write them telling them how you are disappointed with the situation and you won’t be shopping there until they have developed a policy that supports breastfeeding.
The other big thing you can do is write your local representative and tell them to change your law. If you’re not sure of what the law is in your state, here’s a list. Just because your state is listed under the 45 that have some law related to letting a woman breastfeed anywhere she’s legally able to be doesn’t mean that you’re in the clear. I’m not quite sure why Utah is under the list when we don’t have such a law. Here is the email that I plan on sending to both my State Senator and Representative (which should be easily editable for you to send in to yours):
My name is __________ and I am one of your constituents in ________. I am not sure if you are aware of the recent harassment a mother nursing her child was subjected to at Whole Foods store in Utah, but it has called into light a lack of protection in our state laws. Our current law prohibits a mother from being charged for public indecency, but this law is insufficient because there has yet to be a case of a mother being charged in such a way.
While we would like to believe that businesses have the decency to allow a mother to simply feed her child, this event along with many others has proven otherwise. We can not trust businesses to do what is right and it has therefore become necessary to pass a law that affirms “a mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, except the private home or residence of another, where the mother and the child are otherwise authorized to be present.”
Please consider the mothers out there who are hiding in their homes for fear of persecution when all they are doing is feeding their child. Please consider all of the babies who are prematurely weaned because of their mother’s lack of support. Please consider all the tax dollars that are spent on the Breast is Best campaign that are wasted because the state does not back-up such a program with laws that support these mothers. Please do your best to make sure that mothers who are feeding their children in the best and most natural way possible are protected from discrimination.
Thank you for your time,