Lactivist Prof. Amy Brown takes a page out of the anti-choice playbook

29043743 - my body my choice message printed on apper hanging on clothesline

When it comes to infant formula, I’m prochoice.

Sure, I breastfed my own four children; I had relatively few problems, I enjoyed it and I had four fat, happy babies. I chose to use my breasts for breastfeeding, but that tells me nothing about what other women ought to do with their breasts.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Brown is no more interested in making formula cheaper than antichoice activists are interested in making abortion safer.[/pullquote]

Similarly, I have never had an abortion and that tells me nothing about what other women should do if they experience an unwanted pregnancy.

Lactivists, like antichoice advocates, feel differently. Antichoice advocates want to make sure that NO woman can have an abortion, except perhaps in extremely limited circumstances like rape and incest. Lactivists want to make sure that NO woman can feed her baby with formula, except perhaps in extremely limited circumstances such as when a baby ends up half dead from insufficient breastmilk.

Both lactivists and antichoice advocates recognize that the majority of people don’t agree with them. That’s why they’ve resorted to stealth tactics — restrictions that are designed to prevent formula feeding or abortions, masquerading as health initiatives.

Consider this bit of nonsense from lactivist Prof. Amy Brown. She may have set a new standard in hypocrisy with her latest piece in entitled Don’t We Deserve Fairer Priced Formula Milks? She’s writing about the bill proposed by Scottish MP Alison Thewlis meant to further restrict formula marketing.

What this bill is seeking to do is to introduce a source of fair and accurate information about formula milks, outside of those who are trying to sell a product. It aims to reduce its cost, by preventing false claims and reducing advertising charges. Overall it plans to hold manufacturers accountable for their claims.


Claiming that the Thewlis bill is designed to lower the cost of formula is like antichoice activists claiming that the restrictive Texas abortion access law was designed to improve the safety of pregnancy termination.

Proponents say that the Texas law will give women who have abortions better access to emergency treatment should complications arise, while providing greater oversight of their doctors. But many mainstream health care groups, who analyzed the law on its medical merits, say the measures are unnecessary and could even compromise patient well-being.

Two provisions of the 2013 law are before the court, which will hear arguments in the case on Wednesday. One requires doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic. The other requires all abortion facilities to meet the specifications of ambulatory surgical centers, which have more staff and equipment, and are more expensive to manage.

The Supreme Court rejected their argument.

“There was no significant health-related problem that the new law helped to cure,” Breyer wrote. “We agree with the District Court that the surgical-center requirement, like the admitting-privileges requirement, provides few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions, and constitutes an “undue burden” on their constitutional right to do so.”

The Thewlis bill is similar. It is meant to increase the obstacles for woman who can’t or don’t want to breastfeed. And that’s not surprising; Brown is on record as vociferously opposing the use of formula. She is the author of Why Fed Will Never Be Best: The FIB Of Letting Our New Mothers Down. The title is in keeping with what appears to be the cardinal rule of lactivism — never miss an opportunity to shame women who can’t or don’t breastfeed.

The Texas bill, as terrible as it was, had a justification that was plausibly related to women’s health. Brown’s claim doesn’t even have that.

Both she and Thewlis insist that restricting formula marketing will make formula cheaper. On which planet would that happen? Making an product cheaper involves economies of scale. The more product a company sells, the less it costs to make. That’s why companies of all kinds spend money on marketing. They know that it increases sales and therefore increases profits. There is no evidence of any kind that restricting formula marketing will have ANY positive impact on the price.

Are Brown and Thewlis so ignorant that they don’t know that? Or are they merely sly, attempting to limit access to formula without admitting it?

That would be bad enough, but the truth is even worse. Brown and Thewlis support policies that are designed to make formula MORE EXPENSIVE. In the UK, discounting formula is banned.

[T]he relevant EU regulation bans “any … promotional device to induce sales of infant formula directly to the consumer at the retail level, such as … discount coupons” … [T]he law bans “multi packs (bulk packs), loyalty/reward card schemes, free formula, price reductions, discounts or mark downs and buy one get one free” offers.

Brown is no more interested in making formula cheaper than antichoice activists are interested in making abortion safer. And, like antichoice activists, Brown is willing to say anything — no matter how disingenuous, nonsensical or untrue — to restrict women’s choice of formula.