When Michelle Hickman chose to publicly nurse her child in a Target store in Texas, employees asked her to move to a fitting room. Since then, the group Breastfeeding Mothers in America has used the incident as a platform to complain about the “rights” of mothers to nurse wherever they please, regardless of the discomfort it causes to others exposed to the activity. Hickman was sitting on the floor near a display of jeans when a store employee offered to find her a dressing room so she could have privacy during the milking process. Instead of accepting the assistance, Hickman refused it and took offense. Since then, nursing mothers banded together to create a national “Nurse-In” demonstration, calling last week for mothers all around the country to bare their sagging breasts at Target stores in retaliation. Just because people have the legal right to engage in an activity doesn’t mean that they should do it.
According to the NationalConference of State Legislatures, forty-five states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location. Of the five states that don’t allow it, only West Virginia has nothing to say about public breastfeeding. Of the others, Idaho exempts breastfeeding mothers from jury duty, Virginia allows women to breastfeed on any land or property owned by the state, and Michigan and South Dakota exempt breast feeding mothers from public indecency or nudity laws.
Illinois has two statutes relating to the subject. Ill. Rev. Stat.ch 720 5/11-9 (1995) clarifies that breastfeeding of infants is not an act of public indecency. (SB 190)
ILL. Rev. Stat. ch.740 !37 (2004) created the Right to Breastfeed Act. I like the wording in section 10:
Sec. 10. "Breastfeeding Location. A mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother's breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding; however, a mother considering whether to breastfeed her baby in a place of worship shall comport her behavior with the norms appropriate in that place of worship."
I don’t understand the place of worship exemption clause. Of all the places that one might seem to feel safe while nursing, a place of worship would seem natural! Whipping it out while standing in line at the grocery store would seem like a more sensible exception to me.
The nipple exposure is already covered in the exemption from public indecency, but I loved that the legislature threw that in the statute. Funny!
I don’t understand why a breastfeeding Mother would rather sit on the filthy floor of a store than retreat to a private dressing room. Hickman just wanted to create a national furor and hormone-raging postpartum Moms seem like an easy “Target” for such angry and pointless protests.
I have no more desire to see a baby sucking on a breast any more than I do feet without stockings and flabby bare arms on women more than the age of 30. Consider those who have to look at you before you decide how to comport yourself. Proper etiquette and good manners should be part of one’s decision making process. Remember- decency is all that is required to make sure one’s manners are properly attired.