An Australian woman has been banned from breastfeeding her 11-month-old because she got a tattoo four weeks earlier, despite recording negative results on HIV and hepatitis tests.

According to ABC News, Federal Circuit Court Judge Matthew Myers granted an injunction to stop the mother from breastfeeding following a request from the child’s father in the midst of a “bitter parenting dispute.” The judge claimed that the negative results were not conclusive, and that the mother’s tattoo put her baby at risk.

Dr. Karleen Gribble, a breastfeeding advocate from the University of Western Sydney, said: “I’m only aware of one case where somebody contracted HIV from tattooing and that was somebody who’d got a tattoo in Bali, not somebody who’d gotten it in Australia.” She continued: “I think when it comes to mothers and breastfeeding, we need to consider that mothers are people, they do things.” Rebecca Naylor, CEO of the Australian Breastfeeding Association, agreed that the risk of passing along an infection is very low:

“I think unless there’s evidence that she has contracted an infection as a result of that tattoo, then it is unreasonable. Tattooing in and of itself, as long as it’s done in reputable way and that the infection control procedures are followed, the risk is low and so no, we would absolutely encourage women who have had tattoos to breastfeed their babies for as long as they choose to.”

Beyond simply being medically unsound, Naylor pointed out that the ruling is troubling in its overzealous attempt to police a mother’s body.

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“Does that mean that women who expose themselves to any sort of risks around the contraction of a blood-borne virus...shouldn’t be allowed to breastfeed?” she said. “Women do need to be careful. They’re feeding a child, it’s going to be their main source of nutrition up until they’re 12 months of age...But it doesn’t mean that you have to wrap yourself in glad wrap.”

An emergency appeal against the ruling has been set for Friday.


Contact the author at ellie@jezebel.com.

Image via Associated Press.

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