There Is No Right to Breast-Feed

A Virginia woman did what she normally did when her 19-month-old baby was agitated—she breast-fed her. Trouble is, she did it in church, and she did it uncovered. Now she feels like her “rights as a mom have been violated” because the church objected. Is there a right to breast-feed in a church? Is there a right to breast-feed in public? Is there a right to breast-feed anywhere? Is there a right to breast-feed uncovered? Is there an absolute right to breast-feed?

No.

The Summit Church in Springfield, Virginia, does not allow breast-feeding without a cover because it could make men, teenagers or new churchgoers “uncomfortable.” Duh.

When a woman breast-fed her baby in the middle of a church service, she was asked to go to a private room. She declined. She was also told by a woman that the sermon was being live-streamed and that she would not want her to be seen breast-feeding.

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The woman then fled the church, “embarrassed and in shock.” The next day, she posted on Facebook a video of her breast-feeding her child, “telling viewers what happened and urging women to stand up for breast-feeding.” “Breast-feeding is normal,” she said. “I have breast-fed in a few different countries. I have breast-fed all over the place,” she said. “No one has ever said anything to me.”

Now the woman and her attorney “are pressing church leaders to issue a statement and reverse their policy.” Gun Control and the Se... Laurence M. Vance Buy New $5.39 (as of 01:50 EST - Details)

Turns out that in Virginia a law was passed in 2015 protecting a woman’s right to breast-feed in public. Identical bills were introduced in Virginia’s Republican-controlled House (HB 1499) and Senate (SB 1427) “relating to the right to breastfeed in public places.” The bills passed without any opposition whatsoever. The governor signed this in law on March 10, 2005, and it became effective on July 1, 2005. The law adds to Title 32.1 of the Code of Virginia “a chapter numbered 17, consisting of a section numbered 32.1-370, as follows”:

CHAPTER 17.

BREASTFEEDING.

§ 32.1-370. Right to breastfeed.

A mother may breastfeed in any place where the mother is lawfully present, including any location where she would otherwise be allowed on property that is owned, leased, or controlled by the Commonwealth in accordance with § 2.2-1147.1.

Before passage of this law, Virginia law guaranteed mothers the right to breast-feed on state-owned property or any public place without violating the state’s indecent exposure law.A mother may breastfeed in any place where the mother is lawfully present, including any location where she would otherwise be allowed on property that is owned, leased, or controlled by the Commonwealth in accordance with § 2.2-1147.1.

The church said it “was not aware of the law and would look into it.” King James, His Bible,... Laurence M. Vance Best Price: $14.96 Buy New $19.95 (as of 01:50 EST - Details)

A similar incident recently happened in North Carolina. There a judge told a women in his courtroom who was breast-feeding her son:

Ma’am, you need to cover up. For you not to realize that is absolutely ridiculous. Step outside, and cover up right now. Stand up, and go, now.

To nurse the child in the courtroom is just absolutely inappropriate. Now step outside and button up, or whatever you need to do to button up.

Yet, under North Carolina law: “A woman may breast feed in any public or private location where she is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breast feeding.”

These laws (like most laws) should never have been passed because there is no right to breast-feed.

Some observations—

Let me say first of all that I consider breastfeeding to be in the best interests of the baby and the mother. Here are 101 reasons why.

Second, like the woman who breast-fed her baby in church, I believe that “breast-feeding is normal.” However, urination, defecation, and intercourse are normal, but that doesn’t mean that people should be able to do these things in public as long as they clean up their mess. War, Empire, and the M... Laurence M. Vance Best Price: $16.00 Buy New $9.95 (as of 01:25 EST - Details)

Third, because I am a man with red blood in my veins, I prefer that I don’t, and that my sons don’t, see women breast-feeding anywhere uncovered.

Fourth, I have never understood the desire of some women to use breast-feeding as a means to expose themselves.

Fifth, the issue here concerns breast-feeding on private property. Libertarians can argue all day long about what conduct is permissible on public property and at the end of the day never reach a consensus. I am not stepping into that quagmire. I will say that, ideally, all land should be privately owned. In the meantime, public property should be reduced as much as possible. This is something that all libertarians can agree on.

Sixth, no one, including government, has the right to tell anyone what they must allow people to do on their own property.

Seventh, restaurants, stores, and churches are not public property.

And eighth, if government can tell you that you must allow women to breast-feed on your property, then what can’t government tell you that you must allow people to do on your property?

There is no right to breast-feed. There is a right to do what you want on your own property. And there is a right to do what you want on someone’s else’s property as long as you have permission. That goes for breast-feeding, swearing, smoking, drinking, and wearing a red shirt.

But it works both ways. If you are on someone’s property and you see a woman breast-feeding her child uncovered, you have several options: avert your eyes, stare, move to another location on the property, ask her to stop or cover up, or leave the property. You don’t have the option to pressure the government to make her stop breast-feeding anymore than she has the option to pressure the government to grant her the right to breast-feed. At least not in a free society.