If a growing group of Georgia lactivists have their way, people who feel compelled to harass, discriminate against, or restrict mothers from breast-feeding in public could face a fine of up to $1,000, a penalty that would do more to enforce a state law giving moms the right to nurse wherever they damn well please.
According to Time's Bonnie Roch, Nirvana Jennette and other "breast-feeding advocates" from around the country are organizing a "nurse-in" for Monday at five sites in Georgia, including the State Capitol where the cacophony of suckling infants will prove once and for all to incredulously prudish politicians that breasts, in fact, have a function other than corrupting the public's morals. On Wednesday, Jennette and and other activists met with lawmakers, lobbying them to toughen Georgia's breast-feeding laws so that people like Jennette's pastor — who suggested that she could be arrested for public indecency when she tried to breast-feed her daughter in church — can't publicly excoriate women for doing something that's completely legal. Jennette says that, so far, lawmakers' support for toughening the breast-feeding law has been "overwhelming," adding,
I didn't see myself ever being here doing this. I was okay being a mom at home. But our law needs to be changed so it's a comprehensive, supportive law for breast-feeding mothers.
Every state except stodgy West Virginia and the land of suspiciously breast-shaped starches — Idaho — has a law on the books allowing mothers to nurse in whatever public space they so choose to defile — schools, parks, and even our sacred public monuments. Only about 10 states, however, actually enforce these laws, meaning that anybody who was denied the teat at a young age and therefore has some unresolved emotional issues that they have to subconsciously exercise on breast-feeding mothers can scowl, hiss, and berate those mothers.
Though reports that Beyoncé is breast-feeding her majesty the princess Blue Ivy Carter in public certainly lend some star power to the growing movement to protect moms' right to bare a little top boob in public, Philadelphia breast-feeding law expert Jake Marcus says that public nursing laws need to come with an enforcement provision to ensure that they're respected. She says that when women hear that they have the right to breast-feed in public, they're lulled into the wackadoo belief that that's, like, a literal right. "They see the word right," she says, "and think, No one can interfere with me. But a right without a remedy is not a right."
In addition to the $1,000 fine for anyone trying to interfere with a publicly nursing mom, the proposed legislation seeks to safeguard working mothers from employers that attempt to restrict their breast-feeding, and also targets "habitual offenders" such as business or churches for steep $10,000 if they breech breast-feeding protections. Don't get too excited, though — Marcus warns us that the "habitual backers" clause probably won't gain much traction and that lovely human specimens like Jennette's finger-wagging pastor will more than likely continue their crusade against public breast-feeding with impunity, since places of worship — drum roll — are usually exempt from public accommodation regulations.
Is Breast-Feeding "Lewd Behavior"? Angry Moms in Georgia Fight Back [Time]
Report says Beyonce breastfeeds in public; advocates cheer [USA Today]