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Judge doesn't allow breastfeeding in courtroom? This Michigan judge broke the law.

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Judge tells mom: Don’t breastfeed in courtroom
posted: 11/10/2011, 9:01 am

“I felt like I was being attacked for breastfeeding.”

So says Michigan mom Natalie Hegedus, who claims that she was left “humiliated” this week when a district court judge openly admonished her for breastfeeding her 5-month-old baby in the courthouse.

Natalie hadn’t planned on bringing her son Landon with her when she went to court this past Tuesday, but had to pull him out of daycare after he came down with an ear infection. So when he became hungry after a 2-hour wait, she did what most moms would do – she fed him.

Making sure that “nothing was showing,” Natalie says that she discretely nursed Landon as she continued to wait in the courtroom. When her name was finally called, she asked the Honorable Robert T. Hentchel for a moment as she collected herself and her son. According to Natalie, the judge then asked her if she thought the courtroom was an appropriate place to breastfeed her baby.

Showing considerable calm, Natalie says that she pointed out that her son was hungry and that nursing in public is not against the law so she didn’t feel it was inappopriate to feed him there. She claims that the judge disagreed, citing, “My court, my law and I feel it is.” Apparently it was then that the mortified mom noticed a note that a court employee had passed to the bench that warned, “There is a woman breastfeeding in court.”

“Needless to say I left in tears, I have never felt so humiliated,” Natalie wrote as she later related the experience in a post in the BabyCenter Community. She was so outraged that she’s contacted lawyers and plans on filing a formal complaint.

As disappointing as Natalie’s story is, what makes it all the more frustrating is the fact that it’s not exactly a one-off incident. She is just one of many moms who have felt judged and criticized for simply feeding their children. Despite the fact that just about everybody encourages moms to breastfeed these days, we still hear stories of women being kicked off of busesremoved from airplanes and asked to leave restaurants for daring to nurse their babies in public.

Is it any wonder that new moms like BabyCenter blogger Sabrina Garibian might have a few jitters at the prospect of breastfeeding in public?

If we really want to encourage nursing, then it can’t be shrouded in mystery and shielded from sight, something that good moms do while huddled behind closed nursery doors. Natalie’s story just goes to show that despite all of our best intentions, society’s collective hang-up over breastfeeding still exists.

by on Nov. 11, 2011 at 6:10 PM
Replies (31-38):
by on Nov. 12, 2011 at 12:21 AM

really? i'd never heard of that. my understanding was that it was never illegal and the reason specific laws were inacted was to protect against people trying to charge with indecent exposer and things like that in case a flash of boob was seen or something like that.

Quoting Nicholle5:

breast feeding in public was illegal in az as well as in other states because its up to the states to pass legislation for/against issues such as this. i was(surprised) able to find this old link on the issue i believe most if not all states allow public breastfeeding now but that hasn't always been the case.there was a story in the news back in 2005(i remember because i just had my 1st child at the time)where a mother was nursing her baby at a bus stop or something of that nature and some children with their parents came within close proximity and a child asked what was that lady doing with her shirt off(if i remember correctly her shirt wasn't off just lifted up or pulled down) the parents of the child were offended and actually called the cops on her for exposing herself to their child in public.she was arrested,her child was placed in cps custody and she was charged with a whole slew of things including indecent exposure to a minor and she later had to register as a sex offender apparently the judge felt that she should have at leased covered up her exposed breasts and really slapped it to her anyways i will try to find the actual story and will post a link when i do

Quoting raven1114:

i believe the cop was mistaken (or lying) because it has never been illegal to breastfeed in public

Quoting Nicholle5:

breastfeeding in public was illegal in az when i had my first 2 kids.i remember reading in the paper when i was pregnant with my oldest daughter(2nd child) back in 06 that breastfeeding in public was now legal but to my surprise it was still not in effect by aug 07.i remember breastfeeding my daughter(completely covered up btw) in downtown tucson az when she was only a few weeks old when some people took offense when they asked if they could see the babys face and i replied no she is eating.they looked taken aback and soon after a cop came up to me and told me that i was not permitted to breastfeed my child in public and to please go into a restroom or wait til i returned home.i told him that i read a while back that breastfeeding in public was now legal and he said that the law wasn't in complete effect yet but understands why i was confused.i didn't get a ticket so at leased that was good but even later after i had my 3rd child when the law was in effect i was always cautious and worried about breastfeeding in public.i now have identical twin girls who are 5months old and i still don't like breastfeeding in public.

by Gina on Nov. 12, 2011 at 12:44 AM
1 mom liked this

La Leche League removed its page on breastfeeding and the laws in various states. Nicholle, as I recall, it wasn't specifically illegal in Arizona as early as 1999. There merely was no protection either. And at this moment, there's no enforcement of the existing law.

The cop actually erred in your case. It wasn't illegal. And that other lady has a wonderful case for the ACLU to fight.

by Member on Nov. 12, 2011 at 10:15 AM
Hhhmmm...had it been me I would have probably been held in contempt of court, because no one tells me my child can't eat.
by on Nov. 12, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Quoting collinsmommy0:

Wow. I have jury duty next week - I wonder what they will think of me & my pump & my request to pump for 20 min every 2-3 hours in a place other than a bathroom!

I have been called too. I have been wondering the same thing. My trial was postponed so I have not had to show yet. I did put that I breastfeed on the paper work. Let me know how your experience goes if you go before me.

by on Nov. 12, 2011 at 11:17 AM
1 mom liked this
What kind of society have we become were we actually need laws about breastfeeding? Shouldn't it be a no brainer? To me it's like having laws about breathing air.
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by on Nov. 12, 2011 at 11:55 AM
This is horrible
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by on Nov. 12, 2011 at 4:03 PM

Quoting tabi_cat1023:

Law is the law, he needs to be in trouble and give a public apology for his statement

This is not too far from me.  The problem is Michigan does not have any consequenses for this.  :( It just says that NIP is not considered nudity. 

Imagine driving a car that isn't working well. When you step on the gas the car sometimes lurches forward and sometimes doesn't respond. When you blow the horn it sounds blaring. The brakes sometimes slow the car, but not always. The blinkers work occasionally, the steering is erratic, and the speedometer is inaccurate. You are engaged in a constant struggle to keep the car on the road, and it is difficult to concentrate on anything else. -Stanley Greenspan
Medications and Mother's Milk - Group Owner  

by Group Admin - Amy on Nov. 12, 2011 at 4:32 PM

Quoting dairymama:

What kind of society have we become were we actually need laws about breastfeeding? Shouldn't it be a no brainer? To me it's like having laws about breathing air.

Lilypie - (wn9y)

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