Not too long ago, a Connecticut mom was asked to leave a courtroom for breastfeeding her baby. Ironically enough, Connecticut law actually says women have the right to nurse anywhere, anytime. Shortly after, another nursing mom was kicked out of a Victoria's Secret store and told to nurse her baby in a back alley. Not at all surprising, though, is the latest news: yet another mom was asked to leave an Alabama courtroom for nursing her baby girl. She was so humiliated, she was reduced to tears.
Jeanna Harris, a single mom of five, was nursing her three month old while she was waiting for a court proceeding in an Alabama state courthouse. The mom, from Mobile, says that she was asked by a court office and told to move to another area of the building. "He came around the corner shaking his finger at me, telling me I can't do that. It was blindsiding." Harris says that she protested for a little while, reminding the officer that she and her daughter, Ellie, had every right to nurse in public, but eventually got up and moved. She says that the officer "told me that if I didn’t leave then, he was going to escort me out. I didn’t know what that meant, and I was about to cry, so I just left.” Once removed, Jeanna found herself in yet another public space: the waiting room. She told AL.com, "They moved me from one room that was filled with people to another room that was filled with people. So what was the point in moving me?"
The court officials, when questioned, admitted that the request to move Harris and her baby had come from other people in the courtroom. Here's where the story gets ironic: much like Connecticut, the Alabama Statue Section 22-1-13 says that mothers may breastfeed their children in any location, public or private, where mom is authorized to be present. But for Jeanna, the issue runs much deeper than just what the law states. She says that the issue isn't about privacy. By breastfeeding her babies (two of which are still nursing, Ellie and her big sister, who is 16 months), she is helping curb diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, so for her, the issue is really about her guaranteed right as a mother. "I have to take my baby everywhere I go," she says, adding that Ellie nurses about once every two hours. She's even careful to bring a cover up with her as often as possible. "Every single time I have been out of my home, I have had to nurse. I don’t show my boobs when I’m at home, and I don’t show my boobs in public. I try to hide as much as I can hide."
Following the event, the enraged mom has decided to hire an attorney, in case legal action is needed. And while the proceedings roll out, she's even planning a "nurse-in" at the Government Plaza in Alabama. The event, open to any- and everyone who supports breastfeeding, even has its own Facebook page. But Jeanna isn't looking to further the trouble. "We've got to research this so we don't get in any more trouble," she adds.
The event already has over 100 invitees.
What can be done to ban the bias on breastfeeding?