The Importance of Being Legal
Posted January 23, 2010
I am a biochemist, not a lawyer, so it wasn't until I started reading "#breastfeeding" posts on Twitter that I realized what an important issue a woman's legal right to breastfeed in public can be.
Again and again, breastfeeding moms are harassed directly or insulted later by people like Barbara Walters, who make many women feel nervous and even ashamed about nursing their children in public. Some moms are even ordered by employees of public establishments to stop nursing or to go to the bathroom(!) or a "nursing appropriate" area. It's enraging that people who are doing the right thing for their family and for overall public health are treated like harlots or smokers.
Of course, much like secondary smoke, there are secondary effects of breastfeeding - these include destigmatizing breastfeeding and showing the future moms and dads out there what feeding a baby properly looks like. Feeding your baby should not feel like going into battle, but it can in a culture where people are taught to be scandalized, offended, or even disgusted by women nursing their babies.
The more laws are enacted to protect a nursing mother in public and other aspects of breastfeeding (including a mother's right to pump at work, and tax deductions for breastfeeding expenses), the more the general public will begin to recognize breastfeeding as the the most acceptable way to feed a baby and anything but "inappropriate."