During the national nurse-in on Saturday, January 5, Hollie Marcotte wandered into a bathroom in the Silver City Galleria mall in Taunton, Massachusetts.
Expecting to use the bathroom for its intended purpose – urination and defecation – Hollie was shocked to see an area cordoned off for the use of breastfeeding mothers. Hollie confirmed with a mall employee that indeed, this area is intended for women to breastfeed in.
In case you can’t make it out, the Silver Galleria actually removed a toilet in a bathroom stall, put in a rocking chair, and expects children to nurse adjacent to another stall where someone may be using the toilet. We’ve all seen (and been disgusted by) the nursing rooms in or attached to public restrooms. Most breastfeeding mothers know that breastfeeding in a bathroom is gross.
Every time someone flushes a toilet in a public restroom, little bits of feces and urine explode into the room, landing on every surface – including the mouth and breast of a nursing pair.
“What’s more? Women’s public restrooms contain twice as much fecal matter as men’s, probably due to the fact that there is the added contamination of soiled tampons and pads, and women are more likely to be dragging in ‘small children and babies in need of a change.'” If you can stomach it, read more about why breastfeeding and bathrooms don’t mix.
And when you’re done, why don’t you call the Silver City Galleria and let them know that breastfeeding may not be confined to bathrooms. Tell the mall management that Massachusetts law protects breastfeeding pairs, and it is illegal to tell mothers to cover up or move to a different area to nurse.
Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 111 § 221(a) (2008): A mother may breastfeed her child in any public place or establishment or place which is open to and accepts or solicits the patronage of the general public and where the mother and her child may otherwise lawfully be present.
In fact, if anyone in Massachusetts attempts to violate a breastfeeding pair’s rights, they are subject to legal action, including a fine.
Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 111 § 221(c) No person or entity, including a governmental entity, shall, with the intent to violate a mother’s right under subsection (a), restrict, harass or penalize a mother who is breastfeeding her child.
(d) The attorney general may bring a civil action for equitable relief to restrain or prevent a violation of subsection (c).
(e) A civil action may be brought under this section by a mother subjected to a violation of subsection (c). In any such action, the court may: (i) award actual damages in an amount not to exceed $500; (ii) enter an order to restrain such unlawful conduct; and (iii) award reasonable attorney fees.
The Silver City Galleria needs to be educated, and they need to remove this despicable “nursing mothers’ area.”
Call and tell them: 508-823-0005
Does your state have a law protecting breastfeeding pairs? If so, does it have an enforcement provision? Read more about the need for enforcement provisions and take action if your law needs teeth. Here are a few articles and resources to check out:
- Lactation and the Law
- Why Is An Enforcement Provision Important?
- Best for Babes Guide to Legislative Change Breastfeeding Laws by State
- Announcing 1-855-NIP-FREE: the Best for Babes “Nursing In Public” Harassment Hotline
- Racy Hollister Okay with Sexy Pics, Not Breastfeeding, for Tweens
- Concord Mall Equates Breastfeeding Babies to “Sucking on Wife’s Breasts in Public”; attempts Cover Up
Dionna is a lawyer turned work at home mama of two amazing kids, Kieran and Ailia. You can normally find Dionna over at Code Name: Mama where she shares information, resources, and her thoughts on natural parenting and life with little ones. Dionna is also cofounder of Natural Parents Network and NursingFreedom.org, volunteer for Best for Babes, and author of For My Children: A Mother’s Journal of Memories, Wishes, and Wisdom.
Photo taken by and used with permission of Hollie Minke Marcotte