Professor Erin Stephens
November 21, 2017
Public Breastfeeding: Is it a Civil Right?
Currently, there is no federal law in place that protects a woman’s right to breastfeed her child in public. There are a lot of people who may be curious as to why there would even be the need for our federal government to become involved is the matter of breastfeeding, but with each state having a variance in public breastfeeding laws; it is very difficult for many mothers to even know what their rights are and what recourse should and can be taken if and when those rights are violated. Nursing a child in public will stop being viewed as a criminal act by ignorant members of society, when our government leaders decide to take a stand and enforce penalties to those who discriminate against nursing mothers who are only feeding their children and not committing a crime or criminal act.
It is very sad that as a nation, we cannot stand up for the rights of mothers to provide the natural nourishment for their children. Breastfeeding was once the only option for feeding a child. Now it has become something that is just blown out of proportion to an unnatural act, which is the farthest thing from the real truth. Breastfeeding is the natural way that any mother is supposed to feed their offspring. It is time that we as a nation take a stand and protect the rights of women to feed their children anywhere and at anytime and not view it as a sexual or unnatural act. Mothers are condemned for feeding their children in public and even asked to leave public places because they are merely feeding their child, this is not acceptable in our society.
People say they have no problem with women breastfeeding in public as long as she and the baby are covered. Most mothers who are nursing in public are discreet but are still met with controversy just for the simple fact they are nursing in public. There are also some mothers who are not comfortable with covering their babies head completely when nursing as well, and to me that is completely understandable as well. After all, bottle nipples are made to mimic the natural breast nipple so why is it that the general public want to make such a big deal out of the breast nipple? Mothers have the right to feed their children and it is a civil right that our government needs to stand up for our rights as mothers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched a national initiative to promote breastfeeding. The goal in this nationwide initiative was in hopes of inspiring of at least 75% of American mothers to exclusively breastfeed in the first six months following the birth of their child. This may seem like an unreachable goal for something that today’s society thinks should only be done in private, especially when a newborn will nurse on average every 2-3 hours, and sometimes more during illness or growth spurts. The World Health Organization recommends that a child breastfeed up to two years of age...