Woman Claims Cop Told Her to Stop Breastfeeding in Public

copI can't wait for the day when breastfeeding in public stops being news. Who's with me? Hold it right there y'all: a woman who says she was kicked out of the lobby of an Illinois courthouse for daring to feed her daughter has stumbled on one of the toughest stumbling blocks for moms yet.

Natalie Petrovic says the person who told her she had to nurse her daughter in the courthouse bathroom wasn't your average ignorant store manager or rude passerby. Petrovic, who was there to apply for food assistance benefits, is suing Cook County and the sheriff because she claims it was none other than a cop who told her she was being indecent.


And that, right there? That's a huge problem.

Breastfeeding in public is a right under the law in 45-some states -- including Illinois. But if the very people who are charged with policing our streets (and our courthouses) don't know the law, how the heck are we Moms supposed to protect ourselves from all those busybodies who are terrified of a little boob?

The exact details of Petrovic's case are sure to come out as the lawsuit progresses. Right now we know she says she was told she had to either stop feeding her 7-week-old or go hide in a bathroom. The county won't respond to the allegations because of the pending litigation, but this happens more than you'd think.

A mom who was breastfeeding her child at the home of Washington, D.C.'s Metropolitan Police was accused of indecent exposure by a guard late last fall -- even though nursing in public is protected in the nation's capital. In 2008, a mom at a Kentucky McDonald's was told by a police officer that she would be facing criminal charges for feeding her child. Again, that's a state that protects moms who breastfeed.

That's a mere sampling of the instances where the cops were ignorant of laws that protect mothers and their kids, and it's terrifying. When someone makes a ridiculous claim of inappropriate sexual activity by a mom who is simply trying to give her kid a meal, we depend on the person showing up to answer the call to know what they're talking about.

What's the use of the laws to protect moms if the cops don't know about them? Are the police in your area aware of the laws?


Image via ElvertBarnes/Flickr

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