In the most shocking and fascinating news to trickle out this week (yep! Even bigger than Kim Kardashian's top secret baby name), the Venezuelan Congress will discuss legislation that would prohibit bottle feeding infants. This would be done as part of a larger effort to both encourage breastfeeding and reduce the use of baby formula. A lawmaker of the ruling Socialist Party in Venezuela, Legislator Odalis Monzon, said that the proposal would "prohibit all types of baby bottles" as as way to improve children's health across the country as well as reestablish the bonds between mother and baby.
Monzon, in a television interview given last Thursday, said, "Every baby has the right to breastfeeding. We want to increase the love (between mother and child) because this has been lost as a result of these transnational companies selling formula." Talk about a knockout punch — I'm not sure of any other country in the world that's made a connection between bottle feeding and love lost between parent and child. In 2007, Venezuela passed the Law for the Promotion and Support for Breast-feeding, but Monzon said that the law fell short as it did not establish any sanctions for using formula. When pressed, Monzon did not come forward with details on what these new sanctions would be if the proposed change to prohibit bottle feeding would be if the law is passed by Congress. The likelihood of it passing is high due to the fact that the Socialist Party (where the legislation was born) holds the majority. Currently, Venezuela's Health Ministry reported that 27.1 percent of mothers in the country who are able to breastfeed actually do so. The aim of officials is to increase that number to 70 percent by 2019.
Monzon did note that exceptions to the legislation would be allowed in the event that there was a death of the mother or that a woman's breast milk production was limited — but that would have to be determined by the health ministry before a mother would be given the okay to formula feed. The groundbreaking legislation would also provide for the creation of more breast-milk banks throughout the country as well as require companies to set aside space for mothers to nurse. There's no word on what type of punishment violators will face.
A lawmaker from the Justice First party, Eduardo Marin, finds the proposal "unacceptable and alarming," and if I'm completely honest, I think most would agree. He said that the 2007 law that Monzon is pushing to amend was aimed at promoting breastfeeding, not "questioning, stigmatizing and practically criminalizing those who have opted for (other methods) of feeding. Marin has it completely correct. The creation and passage of this new law would completely penalize — and at the most extreme, oppress — mothers who bottle fed their children. While it's amazing to think of the leaps and bounds Venezuela has taken to make breastfeeding the norm for Venezuelans — and for neighboring societies, I think there is something to be said about outlawing bottle feeding entirely.
What do you think? Should a country be allowed to ban bottle feeding?