Claiming that formula is dangerous is like claiming that abortion causes cancer

Newborn in mother's hands

Opponents are clear about one thing; women don’t understand the risks. They aren’t giving informed consent because they aren’t fully informed. Sure, they may be counseled about the major risks, the ones that could kill you, but deaths are rare. The other complications are so much more common. If women only knew of the myriad risks, they’d never choose it in the first place.

Opponents recommend far more extensive counseling, preferably counseling that takes place long before the decision needs to be made. They helpfully offer books and websites as well as in person counseling about ALL the risks, not just the ones that doctors deign to mention.

Inevitably there has been a backlash against the opponents but the opponents claim the high ground with the retort: “Are you saying that there are NO risks?” Everyone knows that there are risks and that comment exposes those in favor as being the lying, evil people that they are. Opponents are providing a valuable service by carefully and extensively counseling women about the risks. Once they know, they will reject the choice.

Think I’m talking about anti-choice advocates who work tirelessly to prevent women from choosing abortion? Think again.

I’m talking about lactivists and formula.

Don’t believe me? Consider the passive-aggressive, utterly tone deaf response of Fraser Health, The choice is yours: supporting moms to reach their baby feeding goals, to criticism of its breastfeeding “contract,” which I wrote about yesterday (Mom shaming is the new slut shaming). Sidney Harper, lactation consultant and Project Development Nurse, Baby Friendly Initiative, wrote:

What I find most interesting is that our culture seems to be comfortable hearing about the benefits of breastfeeding but seems uncomfortable talking about the risks of artificial baby milks or formula. Research has shown that there are higher chances of colds, flu, ear infections, diarrhea and vomiting among other illnesses with formula use.

It is easy to turn to formula when breastfeeding challenges present themselves. Mothers who deliver their babies in Fraser Health are offered support and encouragement to increase their confidence and meet their own breastfeeding goals whether in hospital or at home in their community.

Breastfeeding is normal and for most babies any breastfeeding is good. If a woman is breastfeeding but is advised by a health care provider that formula is needed, formula is given as we would give a medicine – the right amount of formula for the right period of time can be very useful.

Channeling Henry Ford who famously described the color choices for the Model T thus:

Any customer can have a car painted any color he wants so long as it is black.

For Harper,  any new mother can make any choice of infant feeding so long as it is breastfeeding.

It’s not a coincidence that lactivists like Harper and the Fraser Health “Baby Friendly” Initiative have taken a page from anti-choice activists. They both have the same aim: to conceal their true purpose while pretending that they are concerned about informed consent, trying to place any and all obstacles to formula feeding in the path of women who might choose it.

Neither group feels constrained by the truth. Reasoning that the ends justify the means, both groups routinely exaggerate and even fabricate “risks.” Seeking, above all else, validation of their personal philosophical beliefs, both groups struggle to convince women who would choose differently that those choices are wrong. Both groups have zero regard for what happens to women once they reject the disapproved choice. They care about women up to the moment that they are forced into the “correct” decision; whatever happens afterward must simply be endured by the women they have duped.

Most of is can easily recognize the tactics of anti-choice activists for what they are, mendacious attempts to force women to make approved decisions. Most of us can easily recognize that the pregnancy “support” centers have no interest in supporting pregnancy and certainly have no interest in supporting the babies that result from those pregnancies. They are exclusively concerned with foisting their philosophical views on everyone else. Their pious bleating about “informed consent” masks their true motivation.

We should recognize the tactics of lactivists for what they are, mendacious attempt to force women to breastfeed or feel guilty if they don’t We should recognize that breastfeeding “contracts” have nothing to do with supporting women in finding the choice that is best for them. Advocates are exclusively concerned with foisting their parenting views on everyone else. Their pious bleating about “informed consent” masks their true motivation.

In responding to the criticism, Fraser Health should try again. They should withdraw the breastfeeding contract immediately, and issue an apology for ever using it in the first place.