About a month ago, a woman was nursing her 22 month old daughter before take off on a Freedom Air flight. It was a late flight. She was sitting in the back of the aircraft, next to the window with her husband on the other side. A flight attendent came up to her and asked her to cover up with a blanket. The mother refused, and subsequently the mother was kicked off the flight for not complying with the flight attendent's request. This was against local law in both the state she was taking off in and the state she was landing in. This mother knew her rights and was shaken when they were stripped away by a small-minded flight attended who abused her power.
After recovering from this traumatic event, Emily Gillette filed a complaint with the human rights commission. She also went to the media. The full story is here.
This spurred a small nurse-in in Vermont. Paul Skellon, a spokesperson for Freedom Airlines, responded to the incident: "A breast-feeding mother is perfectly acceptable on an aircraft, providing she is feeding the child in a discreet way," that doesn't bother others, Skellon said. "She was asked to use a blanket just to provide a little more discretion, she was given a blanket, and she refused to use it, and that's all I know."
This proved to be an unsatisfactory response to all of us nursing mothers and activists who were watching the story. Because what is discreet to one person is not discreet to another. Discression is such a hard word to define. To some it means using a blanket to nurse. To others it means going off into another room. And to me, it means trying not to flash your neighbor, but not using any particular gear and not going to another room to seperate yourself from everyone else.
So this response spurred a national multi-city nurse-in in front of Delta ticket counters. And here is the story of the national nurse-in. I really wanted to attend but since I am a working mother, I wasn't able to. I wanted to say bravo to my lactivist friends out there! Keep fighting the good fight!
Unfortunately Washington does not have legislation protecting a woman's right to breastfeed her baby in any place she is otherwise authorized to be. Washington only has laws stating that nursing and pumping are not considered indecent exposure. I plan to write my local representitives closer to the next legislative session to let them know how concerned I am that we don't have this legislation in place.