Horrified lactivists find giving others control over infant feeding decisions isn’t such a great idea after all

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Oh, the irony!

Lactivists are outraged that an Australian judge has banned a mother from breastfeeding because of the theoretical risk to the baby of a mother’s recent tattoo.

According to ABC Australia:

A judge has banned a mother from breastfeeding because she got a tattoo, ruling the woman’s decision to get it four weeks earlier exposed her 11-month-old baby to an unacceptable risk of harm.

Federal Circuit Court Judge Matthew Myers’ decision to grant an injunction to stop the woman from breastfeeding her son comes despite the mother recording negative results on hepatitis and HIV tests.

Judge Myers said there was still an unacceptable risk to the baby because the tests were not conclusive.

Before we go any farther, let me declare in the strongest possible terms that I too am outraged, but hardly surprised. This is the inevitable result of a lactivist culture that claims that babies’ needs trump mothers’ needs.

[pullquote align=”right” color=””]This is the inevitable result of a lactivist culture that claims that babies’ needs trump mothers’ needs.[/pullquote]

Consider this quote from Dr. Ruth Lawrence, leading lactivist and professor of pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine:

When choosing a feeding method, a woman should first decide what is best for her infant and then secondarily what method is best for her.

And that’s just what the Australian judge did, relying on on material published by the Australian Breastfeeding Association about the theoretical risks of maternal tattoos to a breastfeeding baby.

He decided that while the mother might think that a tattoo is best for her, it poses a theoretical risk to the baby. Since, as lactivists like Dr. Lawrence believe that any risk to a baby trumps a mother’s autonomy, he moved to prevent any risk, even a theoretical risk to the baby.

That reminds me of something. What might it be? Oh, I remember! It reminds me of the reasoning behind the obnoxiously named Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative.

As I wrote earlier this week (Women can’t reclaim their agency from doctors by giving it to midwives and lactation consultants):

The name “Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative” is a deliberate slap in the face to women.

It reflects the professional lactivists’ beliefs that they know better than women what is best for them and their babies, and, it is the apogee of mother shaming.

… These zealots explicitly deprive women of agency. The assumptions behind the BFHI are that women cannot be trusted to make decisions for their infants, they must be hectored into breastfeeding, any alternative must be made as inconvenient as possible, and that bottlefeeding or combo feeding mothers can and should be deprived of valuable infant formula gifts.

In the wake of the judge’s decision, lactivists have rediscovered women’s autonomy. ABC Australia interviewed Rebecca Naylor, chief executive of the Australian Breastfeeding Association:

Ms Naylor also flagged broader concerns about the wider implications of the ruling, saying it raised questions about a judge’s right to control the risk taking behaviours of women.

“Does that mean that women who expose themselves to any sort of risks around the contraction of a blood-borne virus… shouldn’t be allowed to breast feed?” she said.

“Of course we have to consider the risk to babies, and I’m not in any way dismissing that.

“Women do need to be careful. “They’re feeding a child, it’s going to be their main source of nutrition up until they’re 12 months of age, so you do have to be careful.

“But it doesn’t mean that you have to wrap yourself in glad wrap.”

But Ms. Naylor, according to Dr. Lawrence and other lactivists, doesn’t what’s best for babies trumps what’s best for mothers?

But my favorite quote comes from lactivist Karleen Gribble of the University of Western Sydney:

I think when it comes to mothers and breastfeeding, we need to consider that mothers are people, they do things.

Sometimes there’s a risk associated with what they do, but we generally think that they don’t need to protect their children from all risk and it [comes down to] considering, is this a reasonable risk?

You don’t say, Karleen. Does that mean going forward you plan to acknowledge that when it comes to deciding between breastfeeding, bottle feeding or both, we need to consider that mothers are people, too? Do you plan to apologize to women for the shaming tactics of lactivists that imply that women must protect their children from even the theoretical “risks” of bottle feeding?

I’m guessing “NO,” because shaming other mothers for their feeding choices is just too delicious to surrender without a struggle.

How did we get to a place where a judge believes it is okay to ban a woman from breastfeeding because of theoretical risks of her tattoo?

We got here courtesy of lactivists who believe that women can’t be trusted to make feeding decisions for their babies and others should be allowed to decide for them.

Irony, indeed!