Laresa Leann Gray
November 25, 2012
Women Have the Right to Breastfeed in Public Places
A person may be offended at seeing a woman breastfeeding in public because it bares part of her body that should remain covered up in public. NASCAR driver, Kasey Kahn, tweeted this to his fans: “Just walking through supermarket. See a mom breastfeeding little kid. Took second look because I was obviously seeing things. I wasn’t….One boob put away one boob hanging!!! #nasty,” and then, “I don’t feel like shopping any more or eating (NASCAR’s Kasey Kahne apologizes for ‘nasty’ breastfeeding tweet).” His post on Twitter was only available for a few hours, and he received many comments “booing” him and his attitude toward a woman choosing to breastfeed in public (NASCAR’s Kasey Kahne apologizes). He Facebooked this 6 hours after his original negative tweet: “I apologize. It was in no way my intention to offend any mother who chooses to breastfeed her child, or, for that matter, anyone who supports breast feeding children...In all honestly, I was surprised by what I saw in a grocery store. I shared that reaction with my fans on Twitter. It obviously wasn’t the correct approach, and, after reading your feedback, I now have a better understanding of why my posts upset some of you (NASCAR’s Kasey Kahne apologizes).” Kasey Kahne’s comments on Twitter revealed what many people think of seeing a woman nursing in a public setting. However, women most certainly have the right to breastfeed in public, and should not be rebuked by passersby, nor required by businesses to breastfeed their babies in a private setting only. Women have legal rights to breastfeed in public, yet businesses are not always on the breastfeeding-in-public band wagon, so to speak. It really is completely acceptable for women to nurse their babies in public. In this essay, I hope to discuss women’s and baby’s rights to breastfeed anywhere, at any time. There are 3 parts to this subject: 1) Women’s legal rights in breastfeeding, 2) Women’s civil rights in breastfeeding, and 3) Baby’s rights to breastfeed. First, there is the issue of women’s legal rights to breastfeed. Women should not be required by businesses to breastfeed their babies in a private setting only because breastfeeding in public is a legal right in all 50 states (Breastfeeding in Public: A Mother’s Rights). Some states have laws on the books that specifically say that a woman is protected in public (Breastfeeding in Public). This happens by excluding them from prosecution under other laws that deal with indecent exposure or obscenity. In other states like New York and California, specified civil statutes address breastfeeding in public and grant women the right to do so (Breastfeeding in Public). Under a current federal law, a woman has the right to breastfeed her child in public on any federal property or within any federal building (Breastfeeding in Public). The Georgia state law clarifies that a mother has the right to breastfeed in public wherever she is allowed to be with her child (Georgia State Legal). Even around the world there are laws that render legal rights to women breastfeeding in public. We discussed women’s legal rights; now let’s move on to discussing women’s civil rights to breastfeed. It is a fact that breastfeeding is a biological function, with nearly 75 percent of American mothers choosing to breastfeed their babies (Breastfeeding Report Card, 2011). Women from all walks of life make the choice to feed their babies by breastfeeding: rich and poor, white and black, American and foreign, commoners and even Hollywood actresses, including Angelina Jolie, Tori Spelling, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Garner, Beyoncé and the most popular singer, Pink. In fact, Rocker Mom Pink was ready to start a fight over an insensitive breastfeeding observation someone made to her while she was publicly feeding her baby in a restaurant (“Rocker mom Pink”)....
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