Wednesday, February 27th, 2013
If a woman is told she can’t breastfeed in a public place in Texas, she may soon be able to sue the organization or person that dismissed her, if a new law passes the state’s legislature. The law comes in the wake of a 2011 incident in which nursing mom Michelle Hickman was asked to leave a Target store despite a company policy that is supposed to allow breastfeeding in any spot in the store. Hickman’s experience inspired a nationwide “nurse-in” at Target stores and other locations. More on the new law from The Dallas Observer:
On Friday, [state Rep. Jessica] Farrar filed a bill that would allow mothers booted from a public place for nursing can sue and collect damages from whomever did the booting, be it an individual, business, government or other entity.
Advocates have already won acknowledgment that breastfeeding is the optimal way for newborns to get nutrition and that the practice is something to be promoted. But breastfeeding isn’t yet fully a right, not legally anyways.
Take the case of Donnica Venters, a Houston woman who said she was fired for asking to pump breast milk while at work. She and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued, only to lose in federal court last February.
“Lactation is not pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition,” Judge Lynn Hughes wrote in her decision. That means there is no cause of action for “lactation discrimination” under federal law.
That looks unlikely to change anytime soon, but Farrar’s bill would give women like Venters some recourse at the state level.
This issue also came up online in 2012, when a Facebook nurse-in followed the social networking site removing photos of breastfeeding mothers.
Image: Breastfeeding baby, via Shutterstock
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Friday, February 10th, 2012
Breastfeeding moms staged nurse-ins at Facebook headquarters this week, protesting the networking site’s practice of removing photos of women nursing their children.
The Huffington Post reports the protest was launched by Emma Kwasnica, a Vancouver, Canada mother and breastfeeding advocate who has posted more than 200 photos of herself nursing her children and says her account has been suspended repeatedly for violating the site’s no-nudity policy.
About 60 protesters gathered in front of Facebook’s Menlo Park offices on Monday, and similar protests were planned in New York; Toronto; Austin, Texas; Seattle; London; Paris; Amsterdam; Madrid; Singapore; Dublin, Ireland; and Sydney. Protesters say they want to make the point that breastfeeding isn’t obscene.
The San Francisco Chronicle offered more details:
Facebook officials said that breastfeeding photos are taken down only when they are flagged as inappropriate and that sometimes errors happen.
But protesters called on the social-networking giant to better train employees to recognize legitimate photos and to institute a better way to contact the company when an error is made, especially one that causes a member’s account to be suspended.
“There’s no excuse for anyone to be harassed for breastfeeding,” said Jodine Chase, who was among about 60 protesters who helped organize the nurse-in outside Facebook headquarters. “We want Facebook to leave breastfeeding alone.”
Earlier this year, Facebook issued a statement about its policies to the Huffington Post:
“The vast majority of breastfeeding photos are compliant with our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and Facebook takes no action on such content. However, photos which contain a fully exposed breast, do violate our terms and may be removed if they are reported to us. These policies are based on the same standards that apply to television and print media. It is important to note that photos upon which we act are almost exclusively brought to our attention by other users who complain about them being shared on Facebook.”
Readers, share your thoughts: Do photos of breastfeeding belong on Facebook?
Image: via The Huffington Post.
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