Moms of Young Children Should Be Exempt From Jury Duty

Rant 46

Few of us actually look forward to reporting to jury duty, but like good civic bees, we do what we must to keep our country's justice system functioning. But have you ever been asked to serve while you were in the middle of breastfeeding, taking care of your young children, and trying to keep your own family functioning? It can be an absolute nightmare to get around some state court's rules when it comes to jury duty and the responsibility of caring for children. And for one woman in Kansas City, her decision to bring her baby with her to court for jury duty so that she could continue to breastfeed may put her in contempt of court and cost her a $500 fine. Not exactly what you would call a just and fair ruling, is it? 

Laura Trickle was given a choice when she replied to a court summons and stated she was breastfeeding and would be unable to serve at this time: according to Missouri law, she could either report to jury duty and use a private room to pump milk and store it so her son could feed from a bottle at home, or she could report to jury duty with her baby and a caretaker and use her breaks to breastfeed. 

In the real world, these options don't always work out. Laura's son refuses to drink from a bottle -- something many of us can relate to -- and she either doesn't know of a caretaker whom she can trust or she can't afford to pay one for nine hours a day for, oh, however long the case may run! Laura did the best she could by bringing her baby with her to court. I mean, kudos to her for actually showing up, which is more of an effort than some people give. But the court didn't see it that way and now she has to report to her own court hearing to find out if she'll face penalties for not following directions.

Only 12 states currently exempt breastfeeding moms from serving jury duty, but we have to do better. Not only should all states pardon breastfeeding moms, there should also be an understanding that moms (and stay-at-home or work-from-home dads) of young children -- whether they breastfeed or formula-feed -- don't always have an easy time finding childcare solutions so they can serve jury duty.

My baby was 18 months old when I showed up to serve, and I had to practically beg lawyers not to put me on their cases. Because I worked part-time, the court deemed me fit to serve. But what they didn't get was that I didn't have a caretaker from noon until 5 p.m. or on Thursdays or Fridays and would have to pay for one -- for someone I didn't know or trust to watch my baby. The thought completely freaked me out and I guarantee my head wouldn't have been clear enough to properly judge a case. 

Do you think women who breastfeed or have young children should be exempt from serving jury duty?

 

Image via zzpza/Flickr

childcare, discrimination, women's issues, law

46 Comments

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Movie... Moviebuff

Nope I don't think they should be exempt

fitne... fitnessmom217

I think moms with babies that will not take a bottle and only take the breast should be exempt. I had jury duty a few months ago and my son refuses a bottle and at the time he was only 2 months old! I wrote a letter and was excused. It's VERY difficult to leave a newborn baby when they are only breastfed. Both mom and baby don't need that stress. Ecspecially on no sleep!

AliPa... AliParker

If your baby is hungry it will take a bottle. Maybe not the first time you try to give a bottle but they will take it. You can't use your boobs as a reason to not go to jury duty. Not many people want to go to jury duty but most of us have to. Never do I think someone girl should not have to go to jury duty because they feed via boob. Your child will take the bottle when they are hungry enough.

nonmember avatar jaime

Our country really undervalues caregivers of all sorts...I think exemptions should be made for mothers/fathers with young children who stay at home with them, and caregivers who watch the elderly too. My mother was called for jury duty while she was caring for my father...he couldn't be left alone (severe dementia and diabetes). They'd lost their home, and she'd had to quit her job to stay with him. Thankfully they were understanding that she simply couldn't afford a hospice nurse to sit with him while she was in court, but if the judge had felt like being a jerk he could have forced the issue. Sometimes you genuinely can't afford to hire someone to watch out for your dependants, and asking family isn't always an option either.

miche... micheledo

My state allows this!  If you are the sole/main provider of young children you can be exempt from jury duty.  I assumed it was like that everywhere, but apparently not.

fitne... fitnessmom217

What if you don't have a caretaker to help give your baby a bottle!?! And what if you're selected! Jury duty could be anywhere from 2-3 days to a few weeks! 

Movie... Moviebuff

@Aliparker I agree these women just want to find any excuse to use their breast to try to get out of jury duty or show them in public.

Paws84 Paws84

Wow, cold hearted people here. I don't even BF, and I think they should be exempt. Though it would be very hard if I got picked up to be in jury duty, my husband works full time and we don't have family here, and I'm not leaving my child with some nut job I paid off the street.

adamat34 adamat34

They shouldnt be excused. We as Americans have certain duties.

Stop using breastfeeding for every platform. All mammals breast feed, stop trying to act entitled.

nonmember avatar Melissa

the funny thing is that my state isn't a state that allows for this, and I just called the county clerks office, explained that I was breastfeeding and asked them to please make it so I would come up in a couple years. I also added in that I was so bummed that I wouldn't be able to serve because I had always wanted to.

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