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Michigan Judge Humiliates Nursing Mom: “My court, my law…

December 12, 2011

In Michigan, apparently judges get to write the law as they see fit.  I had posted earlier about the woman humiliated for nursing in a courtroom, but I didn’t have full information on that encounter. (Michigan Makes National News When Judge Robert T. Hentchel Humiliates Breastfeeding Mom)  I have found more information about the incident on Babycenter.com.  Notice that the judge seems to believe that laws don’t apply to him in “his” court:

Natalie hadn’t planned on bringing her son Landon with her when she went to court this past Tuesday, but had to pull him out of daycare after he came down with an ear infection. So when he became hungry after a 2-hour wait, she did what most moms would do – she fed him.

Making sure that “nothing was showing,” Natalie says that she discretely nursed Landon as she continued to wait in the courtroom. When her name was finally called, she asked the Honorable Robert T. Hentchel for a moment as she collected herself and her son. According to Natalie, the judge then asked her if she thought the courtroom was an appropriate place to breastfeed her baby.

Showing considerable calm, Natalie says that she pointed out that her son was hungry and that nursing in public is not against the law so she didn’t feel it was inappopriate to feed him there. She claims that the judge disagreed, citing, “My court, my law and I feel it is.” Apparently it was then that the mortified mom noticed a note that a court employee had passed to the bench that warned, “There is a woman breastfeeding in court.”

“Needless to say I left in tears, I have never felt so humiliated,” Natalie wrote as she later related the experience in a post in the BabyCenter Community. She was so outraged that she’s contacted lawyers and plans on filing a formal complaint.

As disappointing as Natalie’s story is, what makes it all the more frustrating is the fact that it’s not exactly a one-off incident. She is just one of many moms who have felt judged and criticized for simply feeding their children. Despite the fact that just about everybody encourages moms to breastfeed these days, we still hear stories of women being kicked off of buses, removed from airplanes and asked to leave restaurants for daring to nurse their babies in public.

While there is no law against breastfeeding in public, there certainly seems  to be an outpouring of harassment.  I just fielded a comment from a woman who wrote about my post from 2009 when Target store employees threatened a nursing mom in Michigan and the vitriol from people regarding nursing is awful.  The commenter suggested that women nurse in bathrooms, because all people eat where other people shit, don’t they?  Oh, wait, they don’t?  Or all women should refrain from feeding their babies because a judge determines that he owns the law, right?  Both happened here in Michigan.

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