Thursday, December 28, 2006

Independent Birth Center Saves DC $800,000 Annually

The only independent birthing center in the District of Columbia saves the city's health care system an estimated $800,000 per year:
The not-for-profit Family Health and Birth Center, housed in a former supermarket and located in a low-income area of the District, provides gynecological and obstetrical services, as well as parenting advice to women and general health services to children, the Post reports. An increasing number of women are giving birth in the center's birthing rooms, while other women give birth at Washington Hospital Center accompanied by one of the center's seven on-staff midwifes, the Post reports. Preliminary data for 2006 indicate that the center might have delivered a "record number" of infants -- more the 153 last year, as well as the highest percentage ever delivered outside the hospital -- the Post reports. Of infants delivered through the center through mid-October, less than 5% were delivered before 37 weeks' gestation, 2% were considered low birthweight and 7% were delivered through c-sections. Citywide rates for those measures are in the double digits, according to the Post. According to an analysis conducted by Lubic based on an estimate in a recent Institute of Medicine report, the center saves $567,000 annually by reducing the number of preterm deliveries. Using the same formula, Lubic calculated that the center saves almost $285,000 in c-section costs.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Inmate Delivers Baby In Jailhouse Elevator

Inmate Delivers Baby In Jailhouse Elevator: Mother, Baby Transferred To Parkland Hospital
A female inmate housed at the George Allen [Dallas, Texas] Jail Infirmary went into labor early Friday morning and delivered her child before paramedics could arrive. At about 5:25 a.m. the woman, 23-year-old Ada Hernandez, told officers that she was in labor and was escorted to a nurse's station. Medical staff determined that Hernandez needed to be transferred to Parkland Hospital in Dallas to deliver the child. Before the ambulance arrived, Hernandez's labor intensified and she delivered the baby boy in the elevator at 5:43 a.m.
Thankfully, the story has a happy ending - the woman was set to be paroled the same day so she and the baby will be discharged from the hospital.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Midwifery Legal Update - Wisconsin

Midwife Helen Dentice of Milwaukee was sentenced this week to six months of jail time and three years' probation on charges of practicing medicine without a license and delivering a controlled substance (link).

Although one could argue (I am not making a case either way, as I was not there and do not know what happened) that Ms. Dentice was somehow culpable in the death of this baby - and certainly she did not meet the requirements for certification of midwives now in place in Wisconsin - the Mommy Blawger would like to point out that the acts for which she was convicted are perfectly legal and/or regulated in most of the 41 states which authorize direct-entry midwifery, including my home state of Texas.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Breastfeeding Legal Update - Vermont (Delta/Freedom/Mesa)

Freedom and Delta airlines have asked that the complaint filed with the Vermont Human Rights Commission against them be dismissed. (link)
[Emily] Gillette is arguing that her civil rights were violated because breast-feeding is a right protected by Vermont's Public Accommodations Law.
Freedom Airlines argued in a Monday letter to the Human Rights Commission that the federal Airlines Deregulation Act trumps Vermont's human rights law, because state law cannot interfere with air carrier service.
Delta is, not surprisingly, arguing that since the flight attendant was a Freedom employee, they are not a proper party to the complaint.

In this case, the plane was on the ground so there is (apparently) no jurisdictional or choice-of- law question. If the plane was in the air, however, what then? Sounds like a law exam question to me.

(HT: Amy)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Governments Should Promote Community Midwifery.

The U.N. Population Fund, the World Health Organization, and the International Confederation of Midwives "called on governments worldwide to promote midwifery in local communities to address the lack of access to skilled childbirth care." (link) :
According to UNFPA, half of the world's pregnant women are without access to skilled care at childbirth. The health of pregnant women and their infants has improved in Costa Rica, Egypt, Malaysia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Tunisia because of the countries' investment in midwives and related training, the agency says. In addition, significant improvements in maternal and newborn health have been seen in Northern Africa, eastern Asia, Southeast Asia and Latin America, UNFPA reported.

Breastfeeding baby's mom among those missing in raid

The raid carried out this wek by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials at six Swift plants across the country disrupted families - including separating one breastfeeding baby from his mother.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Blawgy Things

The State Bar of Texas has a list on its website titled "Blogs by Texas Lawyers". Neat.

Please check out Blawg Review #86 and Blawg Review #87 for more blawgerly goodness.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Breastfeeding Legislative Update: New York and Massachusetts

The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog has the lowdown.

Wisconsin Nurse Charged

Charge against Wisconsin nurse in death shocks fellow caregivers:

Prosecutors filed a felony charge against [Julie] Thao, igniting a debate over whether medical professionals who make unintentional yet deadly mistakes should face criminal charges, on top of civil punishment from victims and regulators.

Officials say the charge against Thao reflected a series of dangerous decisions she made that led to the July 5 death of 16-year-old Jasmine Gant, an expectant mother whose 8-pound baby boy survived.

Gant died after Thao mistakenly gave her a dose of epidural instead of penicillin to treat a strep infection during labor. The epidural, a potent pain reliever used during child birth, caused Gant to go into cardiac arrest and die within hours.

Thao told investigators she was in a rush to treat Gant and inadvertently scooped up the bag containing epidural instead of penicillin. Both medications were on the counter in the birthing suite at St. Mary's Medical Center in Madison.

The case has alarmed groups representing medical professionals who say punishment for unintentional errors should be left to regulators and the civil court system.

While calling the death tragic, they say the charge sends the wrong message at a time of nursing shortages and attempts to improve self-reporting of medical errors.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

DFW Airport Nurse-in, Take II

(or: The Mommy Blawger Gets "Lactive")

I arrive at 10:30am. As I pull into a parking space, I notice two women in the car next to me unloading small children - one is wearing a sling. I think, "they're with me". And they are. As we head inside the terminal, we look for the Delta counter. One of the women spots the group - "I see baby carriers," she says, and we head that way. And indeed, although this is a nurse-in, it looks more like a baby-wearing conference. Ring slings, pouches, Mei Tais, simple pieces of cloth, shawls, you name it. In fact, there are nearly 30 children under the age of 5, and only 3 or 4 strollers.

Someone comes around with stickers featuring the new international breastfeeding symbol, and a sign-in sheet. Later I learn that a total of 27 adults signed in, although it looked to be more than that. There are a couple dads and a few women without babies. When I arrive, there are two camera crews, CW33 and another one, NBC5 I think. The around 10:45, Jeff Brady, the anchor from WFAA 8, shows up. All of the reporters and crews shake hands and say "hi there" like they are best buds.

The news teams do a bunch of interviews. The only disconcerting thing is that whenever a cameraman spots a baby starting to nurse, he comes right over for a close-up. Nothing screams "look at me, I'm breastfeeding!" like a news camera parked six inches from your boob.

Really, nothing much happens. We have no contact with airport police or Delta employees, except one official who will occasionally come by and remind everyone to keep the walkway clear. Mostly we just stand around and chat like mothers of young children are apt to do. I run into women I know from our local homebirth organization, a woman I met at CAPPA CBE training this summer, a woman whose garage sale I went to a couple months ago, and women I know online but have never met in real life. There were La Leche League people, attachment parenting people, homebirthers, and babywearing gurus. Younger moms and older moms. First-time moms and moms with a bunch. Crunchy and not-so-crunchy.

At about 11 am, the power goes out. I sense hopes for a top news spot vanish as the story shifts to "breaking news! power outage at DFW airport strands travelers". Thankfully, the power comes back on after 15 minutes or so. My milk lets down, and I take advantage of the distraction to nurse Andrew, completely unnoticed. Although I do breastfeed in public, and have ever since my first was two weeks old, it has taken me three babies and 4 1/2 years to become entirely comfortable with it. I don't really want to do it on camera.

Perhaps because I am standing towards the end of the long row of moms & babies, or perhaps because I just look approachable, passers-by keep asking me what is going on. One asks if this is a convention; another says excitedly, "is this a nurse-in?" I don't think anyone would have taken much notice if it weren't for the cameras and reporters hanging around.

By 11:30, cranky toddlers hit "meltdown" and folks start to leave. Jeff Brady has, apparently, contacted DFW Airport for a statement. Speaking with four of the women who were at the first nurse-in, he says that a spokesperson for the airport claims that they were passing out literature and holding signs, both activities which require permits, and that is why the police intervened. The women disagree, and are filmed giving their version of events. None of this is going to make the evening news, of course.

Later, I wonder what all the fuss was about. We made a point. We'll probably be on t.v. I met some interesting people. I talked to four or five strangers who know more about breastfeeding laws than they did before. Maybe we educated some people. Maybe we offended some people. No one got arrested.

In the afternoon, mom and I went for haircuts. When we told mom's stylist about the nurse-in, she related an incident that happened here in the North Texas area. She was at a restaurant, and a woman was feeding a small baby in the waiting area. She was totally covered by a blanket, and in fact the stylist and her husband were not aware she was nursing at first. Then another man in the waiting area began telling the woman she "should not be doing that". Next his wife started in on her. Finally the manager of the restaurant came out and told the woman she should either finish up in the restroom, or out in her car. The stylist and her husband were appalled that people would be yelling at a woman holding a small baby, nursing or not.

Then it struck me. For every Emily Gillette who is strong enough and educated enough to stand up for her rights - get a lawyer and file a complaint, know the right people to contact to inspire over 700 people in 40 cities to show up at their local airports two days before Thanksgiving garnering national and international media coverage - there are countless others who are intimidated, harassed, or embarrassed, and do nothing. Worse, think of the mothers who never breastfeed because they are daunted by the thought of nursing in public and want to have a life. Think of the babies whose hunger cries are ignored because they come at an "inconvenient" time or place, impairing the nursing relationship and reducing their mom's milk supply.

Modesty, or "discretion", is a red herring. I see women and girls all the time dressed immodestly. I would love to ask a woman with a lace thong peeking out of her ultra-low-cut jeans to just wrap a sweater around her waist. I don't want to see that, and I don't want my husband or young boys to see it either. What would be so hard about covering up a little? But I don't, because she is free to dress how she wants, and so am I. We invaded Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban (and their oppressive treatment of women), but some misinformed people here at home still try to dictate what a mother and baby can do in public.

This battle is about raising awareness of the law. Until policemen, flight attendants, restaurant managers, store owners, movie theater ushers, and last but not least the mothers themselves know that a baby has the right to breastfeed anytime, anywhere, and its mother is not legally required to be "discreet", the Nurse-in will continue to be used until society as a whole, "gets it".

To borrow a famous quote about childbirth, if you don't know your rights, you don't have any.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Breastfeeding Legislative Update - New York

Seeking to codify a concise, easily understood document, State Senator Liz Krueger has introduced the Breastfeeding Mothers' Bill of Rights. The legislation, S8511, draws upon New York State Rules and Regulations, the Best Hospital Practices and the World Health Organization Baby Friendly guidelines.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Airport Activism; DFW Protest Re-scheduled

Bet no one told them that what they were doing was "obscene" or asked them to leave. Hrmph.

The nurse-in which took place nationwide last Tuesday - but only for fifteen minutes or so at the Dallas/Ft. Worth International airport - has been rescheduled. The press release reads, in part:
Breastfeeding Rally To Take Place At DFW Airport

Nursing mothers and their supporters will be gathering on Friday, December 1 at 10 AM, at the Delta ticket counter in Terminal E of DFW airport.

On November 21, mothers and other advocates took part in a nation-wide nurse-in at roughly 40 U.S. airports. Like all of the rallies across the country, the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport Nurse-in supported the right to breastfeed in all public and private locations, anywhere a mother and child might be, regardless of any issues of discretion. There was no formal national organization sponsoring this event, but amazingly, hundreds of mothers and other supporters turned out nation-wide. Unlike the rest of the nation, however, the supporters at the DFW Airport rally were harassed, insulted, and threatened with possible arrest by members of the DFW police (Department of Public Safety officers), and then asked to leave.

Though the right to breastfeed already exists, many people are unaware of this right, or may choose to challenge this right, or otherwise intimidate and cause discomfort for nursing moms, posing a great threat to the continuation and exclusivity of breastfeeding relationships and compromising the health of mothers and children, and the economic well-being of the society.

The issue of breastfeeding rights goes far beyond a woman’s right to nurse - it also encompasses a basic human right for children, the right to eat and to receive comfort and nurturing at the breast.

The Nurse-ins have been coordinated by volunteers.
So who's going?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Delta Lactivism Update - Today's Nurse-In

Today, at 10 a.m. local time, breastfeeding moms and their supporters converged on 39 airports across the US, and as an act of protest, nursed their babies. While some locations only had a handful of participants, others - like Portland, Oregon and Vermont's Burlington Airport - drew upwards of 40 adults and countless children.

Motherwear's Breastfeeding Blog has a very good summary of the incident and the coverage. I just want to point out that the event was covered on NPR's All Things Considered and ABC's World News Tonight. Locally, CW33 covered the nurse-in - or lack thereof.

And now we come to the part of the post where The Mommy Blawger gets very angry and walks around the house aimlessly, muttering to herself.

At the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport this morning, six women and nine children arrived at the Delta ticket counter area for the nurse-in. After about 15 minutes - and, they say, after only one baby had been breastfed, as if it matters - they were approached by a police officer and asked to stop. While discussing the finer points of Texas law with the officer, she reportedly told one of the women that what she was doing was horrible, indecent, offensive, awful, obscene, reckless, and disorderly. One officer quickly became three, and the women were told they could be arrested for indecent exposure or disorderly conduct.

Let's review:
Texas Penal Code § 21.08. INDECENT EXPOSURE. (a) A person commits an offense if he exposes his anus or any part of his genitals with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person, and he is reckless about whether another is present who will be offended or alarmed by his act.
Title 5 does not define "genitals", but last I checked, breasts were not considered genitals.
Texas Penal Code § 42.01. DISORDERLY CONDUCT. (a) A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly:
(10) exposes his anus or genitals in a public place and is reckless about whether another may be present who will be offended or alarmed by his act;
No breasts there either. How about this one:
Texas Health & Safety Code § 165.002. RIGHT TO BREAST-FEED. A mother is entitled to breast-feed her baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be.
Ah, how simple. Is it really too much to ask that police officers be familiar with the law? The statue was only enacted eleven years ago, so maybe the word hasn't gotten out yet.

After being informed that they needed a permit to hold a demonstration, the mothers packed up and hiked over to Administration, where they obtained said paperwork.

There will be more blogging on this topic. Much more.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Delta/Freedom Lactivism

A woman in Burlington, Vermont was kicked off a Freedom Airlines-operated Delta flight when she was breastfeeding her infant before take-off and refused the offer of a blanket:

A complaint against two airlines was filed with the Vermont Human Rights Commission, although Executive Director Robert Appel said he was barred by state law from confirming the complaint. He did say state law allows a mother to breast-feed in public.

Elizabeth Boepple, a lawyer hired by 27-year-old mother Emily Gillette, confirmed that Gillette filed the complaint late last week against Delta Air Lines and Freedom Airlines. Freedom was operating the Delta commuter flight between Burlington and New York City.

A Freedom spokesman said Gillette was asked to leave the flight after she declined a flight attendant's offer of a blanket.

The spokesman was quoted as saying:
"A breast-feeding mother is perfectly acceptable on an aircraft, providing she is feeding the child in a discreet way," that does not bother others, said Paul Skellon, spokesman for Phoenix-based Freedom. "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."
Mesa Air Group, who owns Freedom Airlines, quickly backtracked:
Mesa Air Group, Inc. would like to issue the following clarification following media reports regarding difficulties experienced by a passenger aboard a Freedom Airlines flight. The statement by our Company spokesman on November 14, 2006 incorrectly described the Company's position regarding passengers' breastfeeding their children on Company aircraft.
There seems to be some disagreement on whether or not the family was offered re-boarding.

Ms. Gillette was interviewed on Fox's The Big Story w/John Gibson and by Mothering Magazine, which is providing ongoing coverage.

Hawthor the Cow Goddess did a comic.

Logo above courtesy of Daddy Types, snarky comments no charge.

A boycott is rumored.

A nurse-in took place last wednesday at the Burlington International Airport, and a nation-wide nurse-in at Delta and Freedom Airlines counters is sceduled for Tuesday, November 21 at 10:00 am local time. I'll update tomorrow.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Friday, November 17, 2006

Wiggly Play Center in DFW Area

How did I not know about this?

Placentas in Strange Places

Placentas keep showing up on college campuses...
The state Office of the Medical Investigator in Albuquerque [New Mexico] is reporting the fetus found Friday in the bathroom at Diné College in Shiprock was not a fetus after all.

The material found was actually the placenta from a childbirth, according to OMI.

Investigators believe a woman gave birth, possibly at home, then delivered the placenta at the school.

While no one has come forward reporting a problem giving birth, there is no longer a criminal investigation in the case.


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Blogger Beta

I've switched over to the beta version of Blogger. The good news: tags are enabled. Bad news: it will take some time before I get everything tagged and the blog reformatted. Sorry if it's a mess in the meantime.

Military Moms

Breastfeeding123, in honor of Veteran's Day, discusses military policies affecting breastfeeding moms.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Florida "Midwives" Released - Take 2

Court taps new judge for midwife case.

(follow-up to: Florida "Midwives" Released, Florida "Midwives" Released Not So Fast)

UK to end separation of detained mothers, babies

Separation of detained mothers from breastfed babies to stop:
Immigration officials are to be ordered to stop separating breastfeeding mothers from their babies in the drive to deport failed asylum seekers after the government was told that the practice flouts UN conventions.

In August, Guardian Unlimited revealed that in at least two cases earlier this year mothers had been detained in immigration and removal centres away from their pre-weaned children.

Happy Reformation Day

Dr. George Grant gives us a short history of Luther and the origins of the reformation.

So I know it's too late now, but if you are as fascinated as I am by the idea of having a Reformation Day Fair/"Faire", you can start planning now for next year. Other ideas for celebrating the holiday are here and here and here. My favorite: crumbled oreos + gummy worms = diet of worms. Cute!

Midwifery Update - New York

Two CNMs in New York state will be closing their practice due to the lack of a collaborating physician.

Two area midwives face expiring agreement

Friday, October 27, 2006

Blog Carnival Roundup

Blawg Review is hosting both the cleverly put-together Blawg Review #80 and the Carnival of the Capitalists #159 this week. Yours truly gets called upon by Prof. Kingsfield.

The Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law blog links to me this week, as well. I've been keeping an eye on this blog for a while; it started out slowly but has become quite a good resource.

Today my kids wanted me to buy a pumpkin, and I said we could get one to decorate for Thanksgiving with, and then make it into a pumpkin pie later. Honestly, I had no idea what to do with pumpkin that doesn't come in a can, but the folks at this week's Carnival of the Recipies do.


Homeschooling Laws in Germany

Trying to homeschool in Germany is a blog monitoring the persecution of homeschooling parents in that country. Don't miss A short history of compulsory schooling in Germany. Apparently, it's Luther's fault, not Hitler's.

WorldNetDaily covers German homeschooling, too.

HT: Spunky Homeschool

My husband would like me to take this opportunity to remind everyone that Tuesday, the day before All Saint's Day, is Reformation Day - the anniversary of Martin Luther's (supposedly) nailing the 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg in 1517.

Monday, October 23, 2006

"Le 'Big Breastfeed' Demonstration"

Europeans are always saying how prudish we Americans are when it comes to breastfeeding in public - but apparently they have problems of their own:

French mothers challenge taboo at 'Big Breastfeed' demo

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Florida "Midwives" Released Not So Fast

Now this one is getting interesting:

Midwifery judge defies bail order
If Linda McGlade, 54, and her daughter-in-law, Tanya McGlade, 27, were released from prison, the local court cannot guarantee it could keep them from other "underground births," Circuit Judge Edward Nicholas wrote on his denial to grant the release.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

States Target Raw-Milk Farmers

Michigan cracks down on unpasturized milk co-ops:
The Family Farms Co-op thought it had dealt with the Michigan prohibition against retailing raw milk, which is similar to prohibitions in many other states, four years ago, when it set up the co-op. Under the arrangement, the co-op leases cows from the dairy farm and then sells shares in the herd to co-op members, each of whom pays $20 a year for their share. The co-op members purchase milk for $6.50 a gallon, which goes back to the dairy farmer in the form of a boarding fee for the cows.

"It has to be this way, because it's illegal to sell raw milk retail" in Michigan, says Hebron. Michigan law allows for people who own and board dairy cows to consume their milk, though.

After I listened to Hebron tell his story about the state police and agriculture inspectors refusing to let him make a call home after confiscating thousands of dollars worth of fresh farm products from his truck, and then serving a search warrant on his wife and rummaging through the farm family's home, I asked him, "Could you believe this was happening in the United States?"

"No," he said. "I have a customer in Chicago who says he's from Russia. He thinks this is worse than what happens in Russia."
Link: States Target Raw-Milk Farmers

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Florida "Midwives" Released

Linda McGlade and Tanya McGlade, the two Florida women convicted of practicing midwifery without a license, were ordered to be released from prison this week pending their appeal.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Midwife Buries Placenta, Loses Job

Can you believe I have a goggle news alert set up for "placenta?". Occasionally it even turns up articles not relating to Tom Cruise.

From the New York Law Journal, Baldwin Midwife Wages Legal Battle to Upend Suspension of Privileges:
A Baldwin midwife is waging a legal battle for restoration of her privileges at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow that were suspended after she removed a placenta from the hospital to bury it in her garden.

Jeanette Breen, 60, who has been delivering babies at the medical center since the early 1990s, was suspended on Nov. 9, 2005, shortly after she left the hospital with the placenta.

The patient gave Ms. Breen, who is a registered nurse and a licensed midwife, permission to take the placenta. However, Ms. Breen did not seek prior authorization from the medical center, which claims that she violated the hospital's policy and state law for the disposal of regulated medical wastes.

Many patients of midwives view placentas as natural products of conception that should be given a proper burial instead of being discarded as medical waste.
The article then goes on to state New York law on the issue:
The hospital contends that Ms. Breen's removal of the placenta violated the state Public Health Law, which prohibits the improper disposal of medical waste. According to Section 1389-aa, that includes any "tissue, organs and body parts," except teeth and contiguous bone and gums, removed during surgery or other medical procedures.

Ms. Breen's lawyer notes that the law does not specifically mention placentas. Moreover, he argues that her actions fall under an exception that allows patients to retain body parts removed during surgery if they have a religious reason for doing so. Mr. Reiser said that his client had a "cultural" justification for removing the placenta from the hospital.
The article notes that the hospital had an unofficial policy of allowing patients to take home their placentas when they make a personal request.

Previous Placenta Posts:
Placentas in the News
Placenta Found At Wellesley College
Update: Placenta Found At Wellesley College

Monday, October 09, 2006

Update: ACLU v. Toys "R" Us

From The Imperfect Parent, Toys "R" Us has issued an official response.

However, via the Gothamist, Tracy Connor of the New York Daily News tests the response of New Yorkers to nursing in public:
In the back of an aisle at [Toys "R" Us'] Bay Parkway, Brooklyn, store, I feed my child quietly for five minutes - until a worker spots me.

"Excuse me, ma'am," she bellows. "We have a room where you can do that."

I explain that I had checked out the "mother's room" and found the sofa dirty, but she's undeterred.

"It's not good in the open like this...for the other people who can see," she presses.

When I remind her that I can legally breast-feed wherever I want, she changes her tune. "I just think you would be more comfortable," she says. "If you're comfortable here, that's fine."

Moments later, another clerk sees us and says, "Oh Lord!" She scurries off, perhaps to speak to a manager, and I brace for a new confrontation. But when she returns it's with the offer of a chair to use in the aisle and when I refuse it, she leaves us in peace.
Best place in The City to NIP? The extrememly posh "Le Cirque":
General manager Benito Sevarin tells me I'm hardly the first woman to breast-feed over four-star cuisine.

"In fact, a few days ago we had a woman - a very famous woman, I won't tell you her name - nursing her baby," he says. "There's nothing wrong with it."
Quite fashionable all 'round.

(follow-up to: ACLU Goes After Toys "R" Us)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Midwives Get Hospital Privileges in Ontario

Ross Memorial in Ontario, Canada, has given delivery privileges to five midwives. Though the article doesn't specify, it is clear that these are direct-entry midwives, not CNMs:
Ms [Sam] Ball [administrator of Kawartha Community Midwives] says Ontario was the first province to regulate midwives and consider them part of the medical system. The services of a midwife have been covered by OHIP since 1994.
She says midwives are able to do clinical care and order blood work and ultrasounds.
There are more and more midwives coming into the system, says Ms Ball. Every year, 50 new midwives enter the field, she says. Despite the growing numbers, Kawartha Community Midwives have to turn about 40 women away.
I also learned that the College of Midwives of Ontario, which is solely responsible for regulating midwifery in that Provence, requires all registered midwives to attend both hospital and home deliveries. (pdf).

link: Midwives ready to deliver at Ross Memorial Hospital

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Midwife Lightbulb Joke

While doing a search for this morning's post, I found this midwife joke from LA Mom:
Q: How many midwives does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Two. One to sit there and wait for the old bulb to fall out of the socket naturally with no intervention, and one to give emotional support.

Attorney-Client Sexual Relations

**Update 10/03/2006 - I have changed the title of this post, since upon further reflection I felt it could be misleading. **

It has been reported (actually, he announced it on Larry King Live) that the father of Anna Nicole Smith's baby is none other than her lawyer, Howard K. Stern. Which, if nothing else, explains why he was spending the night in the Nassau hospital room with Smith and was there when her son passed away. I mean, I spend lots of postpartum time with my lawyer, but I happen to be married to him. Otherwise, that's a little freaky, don't you think?

I know that the first thought all you lawyers had was "Sex with a client? What jurisdiction is he licensed in?". Yah, admit it, you're a law geek too. Stern is licensed in California, which frowns upon attorney-client relationships but does not prohibit them.

And (because it's hard for me to blog about anything that can't be related to childbirth, breastfeeding, or midwifery) I will point out that Dr. Cyril Wecht, the infamous coroner who performed a second, private autopsy on Daniel Smith, was also in charge of the investigation into the childbirth death of Issac Daley and subsequent prosecution of Judy Wilson. Small world, I know. In that case, Dr. Wecht has opined (outside his area of expertise, something he seems to do often) that "laboring women are unable to think rationally and thereby make decisions about their own care."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Mother Sentenced For Using Cocaine Before Breastfeeding

In Tarrant County (that's Ft. Worth, Texas, y'all), Corrina Richardson was sentenced to four years in prison pursuant to a plea agreement. Ms. Richardson was accused of using cocaine and then breastfeeding her then-14-month-old daughter, which caused her to have a seizure.


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Homeschooling (or not) in Europe

Did you know that homeschooling is illegal in Germany?
Last Thursday the German police arrested Katharina Plett, a homeschooling mother of twelve. Yesterday her husband fled to Austria with the children. Homeschooling is illegal in Germany since Hitler banned it in 1938. The Plett family belongs to a homeschooling group of seven Baptist families in Paderborn.
(link: Germany Imprisons Mum. Dad and Kids Flee to Austria)

And homeschoolers in Belgium are experiencing a similar crackdown, thanks to the UN Convention on Children's Rights.

Links courtesty of Spunky, my new go-to gal for homeschooling legal stuff. She comments here and here.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Thursday, September 14, 2006

ACLU Goes After Toys "R" Us

This week a New York woman breastfeeding in a Toys"R"Us was asked to go elsewhere (because there were "children around"). It seems like I hear a report of this nature almost every week, but this time the ACLU has gotten involved:
In a letter to the company sent today, the NYCLU sought a meeting with Toys "R" Us officials; an apology; appropriate compensation for Meyerson; and a written guarantee that Toys "R" Us would permit breastfeeding in its stores and would train its staff about the policy.

Galen Sherwin, Staff Attorney for the NYCLU Reproductive Rights Project, added: "This is about public health, not public morality."

Twelve years ago the NYCLU lobbied for and secured the passage of a law that specifically establishes the right of all New York mothers to breastfeed in public. That statute, a section of New York State's Civil Rights Law, provides that "a mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be."

"Prohibiting public breastfeeding is bad public health policy -- and it's also against the law," said Elisabeth Benjamin, NYCLU Reproductive Rights Project Director. "Health care providers and the law agree that families who choose to breastfeed their children should be able to do so whenever and wherever necessary."
Although I'm not usually a big fan of the ACLU, I'm glad to see that this is being viewed as a civil/human rights issue. As I have said before, I do see it more as the infant's right to recieve appropriate nutrition rather than the mother's right to breastfeed.

But if I were Ms. Meyerson, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for any "appropriate compensation".

Law Related Education Resources

The State Bar of Texas' Law Focused Education page has a lot of good resources for educators & parents.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

No Kidding

Some college football stadiums - like the University of Kansas - are requiring parents to purchase a ticket for their infants (link).

Now I feel differently about this gesture.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Pregnant Moms & Drugs

The Maryland Court of Appeals held this week that the state's reckless endangerment law cannot be used to prosecute women who use illegal drugs while pregant.

link: Charges Rejected for Moms Who Bear Babies Exposed to Illegal Drugs

Breastfeeding at Work

This is, apparently, National Breast Feeding at Work Week.

The New York Times ran a not-to-be-missed article, On the Job, Nursing Mothers Find a 2-Class System, which describes the obstacles some women face when pumping at work:
But as pressure to breast-feed increases, a two-class system is emerging for working mothers. For those with autonomy in their jobs — generally, well-paid professionals — breast-feeding, and the pumping it requires, is a matter of choice. It is usually an inconvenience, and it may be an embarrassing comedy of manners, involving leaky bottles tucked into briefcases and brown paper bags in the office refrigerator. But for lower-income mothers — including many who work in restaurants, factories, call centers and the military — pumping at work is close to impossible, causing many women to decline to breast-feed at all, and others to quit after a short time.

It is a particularly literal case of how well-being tends to beget further well-being, and disadvantage tends to create disadvantage — passed down in a mother’s milk, or lack thereof.
The article goes on to mention the current legislative situation:

Nearly half of new mothers return to work within the first year of their child’s life. But federal law offers no protection to mothers who express milk on the job — despite the efforts of Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York, who has introduced such legislation. “I can’t understand why this doesn’t move,” she said. “This is pro-family, pro-health, pro-economy.”

Meanwhile, states are stepping in. Twelve states have passed laws protecting pumping mothers — Oklahoma’s law, the newest, will take effect in November. But like Oklahoma’s, which merely states that an employer “may provide reasonable break time” and “may make a reasonable effort” to provide privacy, most are merely symbolic.

Public health authorities, alarmed at the gap between the breast-feeding haves and have-nots, are now trying to convince businesses that supporting the practice is a sound investment. “The Business Case for Breastfeeding,” an upcoming campaign by the Department of Health and Human Services, will emphasize recent findings that breast-feeding reduces absenteeism and pediatrician bills.

What needs to change? Is legislation the answer?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Hurricane Katrina - One Year Later

Last year, I posted a list of childbirth-related hurricane relief programs. Obviously some of the efforts are no longer needed, but La Leche League has a good list that seems to be current. In particular, money is being raised to help lactation professionals replace books and materials which may have been damaged or destroyed in the disaster, and to maintain a fund for future such events.

Group Urges Disaster Planning for Pregnant Women, Babies

Hurricane Katrina
More Katrina
Missing New Orleans

Hurricane Rita was disappointing for those of us in drought-ridden North Texas who were hoping for rain, and got none.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Breastfeeding Legal Update - Nurse-Ins in New York, Texas

Lots of activity on this topic lately.

In New York, a Nurse-In was planned this week after a woman at the Longwood Public Library was asked to "cover up":
New York State law on breast-feeding established in 1992 "guarantees a mother the right to breast feed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether or not the nipple of the mother's breast is covered during or incidental to breast feeding."

"I explained to her I wouldn't cover up and that she was being unlawful," Ms. Neary-Wood said. "I told her that now when people complain [about women breast-feeding in the library], she'll have something to tell them and no other woman will be harassed or asked to leave a program."

Library director David Clemens told The Sun Thursday "the library follows the law."

But Ms. Neary-Wood and friend Kristen Ferrara of Rocky Point, who was also breast-feeding at the class, say that's not what Mr. Clemens told them June 30.

The two allege Mr. Clemens told them "we don't have to follow the law" and that the public library is "not a public place." His explanation of this statement, they say, is that the library is governed by a board of directors.

I mean, of all the places one would expect to be able to brestfeed without being harrassed, it would be Storytime. That's almost like being asked to cover up at a La Leche League meeting. Sheesh. (Link)

In Buda, Texas, Breastfeeding fans still want apology:
During the citizen comment period, Michelle and Jason Hickey and many others spoke about the breastfeeding incident at Kyle Pool.

"All my wife was doing was breastfeeding her child," Jason Hickey said. "The people that were involved basically looked for a reason to tell my wife, 'Oh, you were in the wrong,' when she was never in the wrong."

At least five other citizens said they felt Hickey was treated unfairly and deserved an apology.
I didn't see any articles about the original incident, but you get the general idea.

And close to home, a Dallas mother was kicked out of Gutmann's Home Furnishings on Inwood Road for breastfeeding. Worse, when she called the police, the officer sided with the furniture store owner. The Dallas Police Department is reviewing the case. A Nurse-In took place on Saturday, and you can watch the Fox News Broadcast online. Double kudos to Fox4 News for not only showing the mom discreetly breastfeeding, but also for quoting the Texas statute in their coverage.

Related post: Lactivism, Nurse-ins, and Victoria's Secret

Group Urges Disaster Planning for Pregnant Women, Babies

Link: Group Urges Disaster Planning for Pregnant Women, Babies (The Washington Post)

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the lack of emergency preparedness guidelines for pregnant women, infants and new mothers in the United States became apparent.
"Pregnant women face greater risks -- like premature births, low-birth-weight babies and infant deaths -- during the stressful conditions of a disaster. This can make delivering a child difficult and potentially life-threatening," said Theresa Shaver, executive director of the District-based White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood.
The article goes on to note:
The alliance believes that disaster situations call for a shift in the thinking of American women, who generally expect to give birth in a hospital or clinical setting. In the early phase of a disaster, officials said, births will often take place outside a health facility and without the assistance of trained health personnel.

"We will be in situations where there are no health-care facilities. In fact, if there is a pandemic flu, a hospital is not where you take a pregnant woman or an infant to," said Robbie Prepas, a certified midwife who heads disaster preparedness at the American College of Nurse-Midwives. During Katrina, Prepas helped many pregnant women with deliveries in airports and ambulances.

"We will have to retrain care providers to be comfortable with assisting deliveries outside hospitals," she said.

Commercial Discharge Bags, Healthcare Laws, Regulations, Guidelines, and Compliance has an interesting post on "Commercial Discharge Bags" (you know, those free diaper bags with a can of formula in them that they give you when you have a baby in the hospital) in relation to Healthcare Laws, Regulations, Guidelines, and Compliance. Included is a discussion on the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute, Federal Antitrust Laws, the PhRMA Code, and HIPPA.

Midwifery Legal Update - Indiana

Indiana resident Doris White was permanently enjoined this week from practicing midwifery. White was indicted in November 2005 by a grand jury on a felony charge of practicing midwifery without a license.

Judge tells midwife to stop practice (Reporter-Times)
Midwife ordered to stop delivering babies (Indy Star)

EMTALA, Nurse-Midwives, and "False" Labor

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) regulations have been modified to define labor as follows:
"a woman experiencing contractions is in true labor unless a physician, certified nurse-midwife, or other qualified medical person acting within his or her scope of practice as defined in hospital medical staff bylaws and State law, certifies that, after a reasonable time of observation, the woman is in false labor."
Previously, a physician's certification was necessary to determine that a woman was not in "true" labor. The new regulation acknowleges the role of midwives in hospital-based maternity care.

Link: U.S. Newswire

Abraham Cherrix Case

The Family Law Prof Blog reports that the Battle over Teenager's Choice of Medical Treatment is Settled.

The Bioethics Blog weighs in.

And Spunky Homeschool says there ought to be a law.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Midwifery Legislative Update

Birth and Breastfeeding News reports that efforts are underway in Alabama, North Carolina, Idaho, South Dakota, Illinois, Kentucky, Georgia, Missouri, and Indiana to legalize/regulate the practice of direct-entry midwifery:

Legalization and licensure of CPM practices in all these states would represent a massive legislative victory for advocates of traditional home birth.

It would also be a startling rebuke to the many physicians who have long maintained that such practices are unsafe, despite growing statistical evidence that suggests CPM-supervised home births are as safe – sometimes safer – than hospital births.

Well-organized opposition within medical lobbying groups makes such a one-sided result unlikely within the next two years, Ms. [Ida] Darragh says. But, when asked if the flurry of activity in the nation’s statehouses is indicative of a national trend in support traditional childbirth methods, she adds: "We certainly hope so."

As with many health issues, the debate about CPMs may seem arcane to non-experts. The debate is a minefield of acronyms, and home births account for just 1 to 3 percent of all births in an average year, with similar percentages in each state.

Yet the debate casts in sharp relief a philosophical tug-of-war over the nature of childbirth that powerfully affects how expectant mothers approach the ordeal of birth.
ACOG, a "well-funded proponent of childbirth in the hospital setting, opposed the Wisconsin reform, publishing a position paper stating that CPM-supervised home birth 'cannot be considered safe'", despite numerous studies to the contrary. However,
Asked to provide any statistical evidence contradicting such studies, for the sake of this story, ACOG sent none but e-mailed two policy statements further explaining the organization's position on the certification of midwives.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Midwifery Legislative Update - Nebraska

The Nebraska Board of Health is refusing to allow CNMs to attend home births (link - KHAS-TV).

**Update 8/04/2006**
Home birth advocates continue to fight

Lawyer, Wife Livid Over Breastfeeding Incident

Oooh, I love it! Lawyers and breastfeeding!:
A Deerfield Beach lawyer is on a letter-writing campaign after, he says, a restaurant employee asked his breastfeeding wife to "take it outside."

Geil Bilu said that he and his wife and children, ages 19 months and nine weeks, were at Westside Bagels in Coral Springs Saturday morning when his infant daughter began to fuss. Bilu said his wife began to discretely nurse the baby, when a man, who Bilu said he believes was a restaurant manager, came over and asked her to leave.

Bilu said when his wife told the man that she was nearly done feeding the baby and would leave as soon as she was done, the man stood by the table and stared until the family packed up and left.

And of course:
Since there is no criminal offense involved, Geil Bilu said he may pursue a civil case against the restaurant in order to raise public awareness of mother's rights to nurse.

Alabama Midwives: Going Natural

The Huntsville Times has a really good article, Alabama Midwives: Going natural which proclaims "area women willing to travel to Tennessee to have natural childbirth.":
A 1976 rule change effectively ended planned home births in Alabama by limiting the practice of midwifery to certified nurse midwives - registered nurses with extensive childbirth training. They can deliver babies only at a hospital and must be supervised by a doctor.
Because Alabama does not sanction CPMs, they can be charged with practicing certified nurse midwifery without a license if they are caught delivering babies here. That has happened at least twice since 1995.

"For many people, midwifery is a calling, and here's the state saying, 'Oh no, you can't do this,' " said [Chloe] Raum, who is apprenticing at the Ardmore birth house. "They can't recognize that birth can be managed in a dramatically different way (than hospitals) and have just as good or better outcomes.

"We try to be very respectful and nice and quietly educate people."

While state health officials say a hospital is the safest place to have a baby and the vast majority of parents are happy to go that route, midwife births are slowly gaining in popularity. According to government statistics, midwives delivered 328,153 babies in 2003 - about 8 percent of children born in the United States that year. That's up from 7.4 percent of all births in 1998.

The trend is being fueled in part by a study published last year in the British Medical Journal that concluded planned home births are as safe as hospital births for healthy women, with less chance that the labor will end in a Caesarean-section surgical delivery.
No discussion in the article of legislative efforts, however.

My First Nurse-In

Jen is planning to attend her first Nurse-In.

(Related post: Lactivism, Nurse-ins, and Victoria's Secret)

Informed Dissent

The SpunkyHomeSchool blog is keeping up with the Abraham Cherrix case and reports that the appellate judge has set aside the order of the juvenile court requiring Abraham to report for chemotherapy treatments.

(Related post)

Monday, July 24, 2006

Woman to sue after childbirth turns tragic

A South African woman who was left a paraplegic after a childbirth-related epidural is pursuing civil remedies. (link)

Right of Teens to Refuse Cancer Treatments

ABC News explores teens who refuse cancer treatments:
While traditional medicine says that chemotherapy, radiation, and stem cell transplants are the only options available to treat cancer, there are a number of alternative treatments that some say are successful, too.

Some of these methods include diet management, electrode therapy, herbal and plant extracts, supplements, and oxygen treatments.

If an adult were to choose one of these, a physician would acknowledge that decision and uphold it, even if it meant his or her patient could die.

When a teenager wants to do the same, it can quickly become a legal battle between the teen and his doctors.

Is that fair?
And while an adult can refuse medical treatment on his or her own behalf, parents who refuse treatment on behalf of their child can be investigated for medical neglect, or worse:
A month later, Billy returned home with his parents' promise that he would not have to continue the chemo.

Instead, the family came together and chose to turn to alternative therapies. This family decision prompted Billy's physicians to report his parents as unfit to the authorities.
Some medical ethicists, however, believe that some older teens are capable of making informed, life-or-death decisions for themselves. But their parents, who are legally able to make those decisions for themselves, are not able to make those decisions for their children. Sorry if I seem to be repeating myself; I am trying to wrap my brain around this. Instead, it is better for doctors, judges, hospital ethics boards - strangers, essentially - to make these decisions for them.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

What Doctors Hate About Hospitals

Courtesy of the Medical Malpractice and Pharmaceutical Liability Law Blog, check out this Time Magazine cover story from May, Q: What Scares Doctors? A: Being the Patient: What Insiders Know About Our Health-Care System That the Rest of Us Need to Learn.


Saturday, July 22, 2006

Ban the Bags

A new blog,, devoted to stop hospital-based marketing of baby formula.

Breastfeeding Lesislative Update - VT

Council kills breast-feeding initiative:
The City Council [of Burlington, Vermont] decided at its last meeting not to involve the city in encouraging breast-feeding. Some councilors said it is not a "core mission" of the city.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Denise Howell

Blogger and mom Denise Howell, of Bag and Baggage fame, has been fired. And she writes about it so graciously and insightfully.

Ms. Howell is widely credited with coining the term "blawg", a fact for which I and my three blogs are eternally grateful.

P.S. There is no Wiktionary entry for "blawg", and no definition on Wikipedia, either as its own entry or on the "blog" page. Someone want to take care of that?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

50 Ways to Protest a VBAC Denial

Barbara Stratton (voted one of the United States' top 30 women's health activists of 2005 by the National Women's Health Network) has a great piece up at Midwifery Today titled 50 Ways to Protest a VBAC Denial:
In 1999, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) issued new, restrictive guidelines for physicians and hospitals that handle vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). At first small, rural hospitals stopped offering VBAC; then larger, metropolitan ones followed suit. Now over 300 hospitals in our country no longer allow women to choose their method of birth.
Some of her suggestions include the usual; contacting local media, writing your legislator, organizing a protest, etc.; but she has the following legal suggestions:
3. File a complaint with your state medical board against the physician. Again, if the hospital where he/she has privileges meets the ACOG guidelines, then use the standard of care argument. Also point out that your physician is violating your right to refuse treatment. For more information on these rights, see the essay created by Katie Prown based on her research of the illegality of VBAC bans, at

Katie also covers how denying a patient the right to refuse treatment violates ACOG's own ethics guidelines. Throw that in, too!

In situations where you were literally forced into surgery, use the blue pages of the telephone book to contact your state's attorney general and pursue criminal assault and battery charges against the physician.

4. File a complaint with your state agency that regulates hospitals. In Maryland, this is the Office of Hospital Quality Assurance (comes under of Department of Mental Health and Hygiene). They have an official complaint process for consumers. Again, use the ACOG standard of care argument if your hospital meets the VBAC guidelines and include that you are being denied your right to refusal of treatment. Then, pull a copy of your hospital's patient bill of rights (found on many hospital Web pages) and see if the ban is a direct violation of their own document! In Maryland, all hospitals are required to have a bill of rights.

She later explains:
7. Find a lawyer who will help you sue your banning hospital. Make sure you give him or her the link to Katie's essay because most lawyers don't seem to know the ins and outs of the patient rights issue. Tell them about the violation of standard of care if that pertains. To find a lawyer, write to your state chapter of the ACLU or contact your local law school and ask for someone who deals with health law. Try your state's bar association for referrals as well. In a case from Massachusetts a woman was awarded $1.5 million for the post traumatic stress disorder and medical complications resulting from her coerced cesarean.(Meador v. Stahler and Gheridian (Middlesex Superior Court C.A. No. 88-6450, Mass. 1993)) Many lawyers won't know about that case until you tell them.
Interesting. Any takers?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

National Advocates for Pregnant Women

The National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) website (whose stand on some issues I don't happen to agree with) has a blog which, among other things, tracks the arrests of pregnant women (for instance, women who allegedly used drugs while pregnant and are charged with child endangerment). Another one of their issues of note is coerced or court-ordered c-sections and childbirth interventions.

While of course no one thinks it is a good idea for pregnant women to use illegal drugs, it is quite ironic that society and the medical profession frown on drug use, legal or illegal, during pregnancy, but once labor starts we encourage the use, sometimes without informed consent, of all kinds of drugs which have not been proven safe for the unborn baby.

Spokane, Washington, CPS Case Update

Hawthor the Cow Goddess gives an update on the CPS story I blogged about in April.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Inmate Shackling

As promised, Wisconsin's Department of Corrections is "close" to finalizing a policy on shackling of pregnant inmates during labor.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Lactivism, Nurse-ins, and Victoria's Secret

At last count, 39 states (and a few cities) have enacted legislation protecting the right of mothers to breastfeed in public. Usually this legislation exempts breastfeeding from public indecency laws, with language stating that a woman has the right to breastfeed "anywhere she is legally allowed to be" or something similar. Federal legislation on the topic ensures the right to breastfeed on federal property. None of the legislation, to my knowledge, has any "teeth"; that is, there is no fine (so far) or remedy in tort for a mother who has wrongfully been asked to move, cover up, or stop breastfeeding (but see Scotland, which levies a fine).
One could argue that there is an inherent right to breastfeed in public without legislation, but that is beside the point.

Lactivists, however, have developed their own disincentive for businesses who give nursing moms a hard time: the Nurse-In. Basically, it works like this: You own a business. One of your employees asks a customer to stop breastfeeding in your place of business, otherwise open to the public. Or cover up. Or go to the restroom to nurse. Either on their own whim, or at the request of another customer. Regardless of how the situation is resolved, mom goes back home, and complains of the incident on her blog, on her email and discussion groups, at her La Leche League meeting, etc. And the news will spread like wildfire. Promom will start a letter writing campaign. The incident will be discussed to death on Mothering Magazine's discussion forums. Hawthor the Cow Goddess will write a cartoon about you. Your business will be on the evening news.

If you act quickly, offer an apology, and promise to change your company policy and educate your employees on the law, you may be able to avoid the Nurse-In. Maybe not. What will happen is that on a given day, at a given hour, anywhere from two to a hundred women with nursing infants (and some without) will come to your establishment and nurse their babies. If, by the time of the Nurse-In, you have apologized and made nice, the lactivists will eat at your restaurant, shop in your store, and be friendly. If you are stupid enough to still profess to be in the right by this point, they will stand on the sidewalk, or across the street, carry signs, and eat at your competitor's restaurant.

On June 21st and 22nd, there were two separate incidents (in Boston, MA and Burlington, WI) where women who were shopping at Victoria's Secrets were asked to use a public restroom instead of a changing room or nursing in the store. In case you miss the high irony of the situation, here are some quotes from the Blogging Baby article:

[S]he had been asked "to nurse in the restroom because the sight of her breasts might offend a customer."
Imagine, Victoria's Secret customers offended by the sight of breasts!
When she refused to nurse in the bathroom, she was told that "it was unsanitary for her to nurse in the dressing room because people change in them."
And restrooms are more sanitary?

If this had been the first such incident for Victoria's Secret, it might have been forgivable, but sadly it is not. After you get some bad press on this once, you think you'd get the word out to your managers and employees. Also, Victoria's Secret does not carry nursing bras (although I do own two of their bras and manage to nurse in them quite comfortably), even though sexy fashionable nursing wear is quite hot right now.

Anyhow, these two women started a nationwide protest - yesterday at 1:00 pm Nurse-Ins were taking place at VSs across the US. (I tried to blog about this two days ago but ran out of time. If you wanted to go and were depending on me to give you the heads up, you need to get out more often). They were met with varying degrees of response from the VS employees, from complete ignorance of the Nurse-In, to a pleasant "yes, we have been told to expect you" welcome. A couple minor run-ins with mall security, but no arrests as far as I know. Also clear from the post-Nurse-In debriefing; the problem with scheduling these things is, sometimes babies just don't want to nurse at 1pm on a Saturday in the middle of a mall. It's hard to have a protest when half your participants don't feel like participating.

I hope, by the tone of this post, I don't seem unsympathetic to, or critical of, the Nurse-In as a form of social protest. I actually think it is quite effective and might have joined had my domestic schedule been otherwise. But I am looking at it from the point of view of the business owner, for whom it is a major, yet very avoidable, public relations fiasco. On the other hand, as they say, there is no such thing as bad press.

I have two pet peeves, one for each side. I hate it when businesses say "our company policy permits nursing in our store." I want to scream when I hear that. In a state where breastfeeding in public is permitted by law, it is not up to the business to "permit" or "forbid" breastfeeding on their premesis. They can be welcoming or not, educate their employees or not, but it is not up to them to "allow" it.

On the other side, almost all of the articles about the Nurse-In will quote someone saying something like "you see more in their magazines and store windows than you do when a mother nurses". While technically that is true, and I am in no way defending Victoria's Secret's (and popular culture in general's) abhorent lack of modesty, it is all about nipples. In our society, you can show all of the breast but that. Any any woman who claims that all of the nipple is in the baby's mouth while breastfeeding in public is either lying, or has unusually small nipples (or a baby with an unusually large mouth) . Ok, sorry to be so blunt, and please don't leave me nasty comments, but it's the truth.

Here are a few links, and I'll update with some of the better news items as they trickle in:

Breastfeeding Moms Blast Victoria's Secret in Nationwide Protests
Victoria's Dirty Little Secret
Reluctant Lactivist Breastfeeding mothers to stage protest at Asheville Mall
Fox 42 Nebraska
Huntsville Times

**Update 7/05/2006**

The Cleveland Plain Dealer published a truly sensational and bizarre article:
Lactation and lacy lingerie were the subjects of a national nurse-in Saturday as breast-feeding mothers across the country let their kids chug-a-lug in front of Victoria's Secret stores.

Fifteen mothers armed with hungry babies gathered on the sidewalk outside the Crocker Park Victoria's Secret store in Westlake where scantily clad mannequins seemed delighted by the peaceful, half-hour demonstration.

"It's kind of ironic that Victoria's Secret, which plasters breasts everywhere, is offended at seeing breasts used for their intended purpose," said Anna Mauser-Martinez, who organized the local nurse-in and volunteered that she happened to be wearing a pair of Victoria's Secret underwear.
Back on the sidewalk, the mothers caught Aaron Bonk's eye. A juggler and stilt walker, he towered over them on 4-foot stilts. "Oh," Bonk said, sounding surprised. "You're nursing right here? Good!"

Looking up from her suckling child, Amy Klomfas said, "It'd be fun to breast-feed on stilts" - a notion that Bonk advised against.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Funny eBbay Auction

I love a well-written eBay auction description:

Some people might ask what good a 14" Apple iBook with no hard drive and a faulty motherboard is.

Those people lack imagination.

Those are the kind of people who wouldn't buy a car that lacked an engine. They'd forsake a book without pages. They'd probably toss out a perfectly good non-definition TV.

I'm not selling to those people.

I'm selling to the kind of person who wants a 14" Apple iBook with no hard drive and a faulty motherboard. The kind of person who thinks differently.

I think this guy could probably sell anything.

Midwifery Legal Update - Wisconsin

Helen Dentice entered a not guilty plea on Friday to practicing medicine without a license.

She is not charged with practicing midwifery without a license? How odd, since she was clearly holding herself out to be a midwife, not a doctor. Although prosecutors may believe her actions meet the legal definition of "practicing medicine", I would think that the "practicing midwifery" charge would be easier to prove. My guess (without looking it up) is that one is a misdemeanor and the other a felony. But why not charge both? Even though Wisconsin recently legalized CPMs, Ms. Dentice, if I understand correctly, is not one.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Midwifery Legal Update - Florida & Indiana

In Florida this week, Linda McGlade and her daughter-in-law Tanya McGlade were sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison after being found guilty of practicing midwifery without a license. The charges stem from the 2004 childbirth death of another daughter-in-law, Mara McGlade. The Florida case is a bit bizarre, because Florida licenses direct-entry midwives:
The defendants said they never claimed to be midwives, a profession regulated by the state. They said they merely attended an unassisted home birth, which is legal.

But Circuit Judge Edward Nicholas noted that they checked the heart rate of the fetus, delivered oxygen to the mother and examined the placenta.
(link:"Women sentenced for unlicensed midwifery")

In Indiana, Jennifer Williams, CPM, pled guilty on Wednesday to a charge of practicing midwifery without a license ("Ind. midwife pleads guilty in infant death"). As part of the plea deal, the charges of practicing medicine without a license were dropped. No charges were brought in connection with the death of the baby. Ms. Williams' case gained national notoriety after she was featured in a New York Times article ("Prosecution of Midwife Casts Light on Home Births"). In May, she brought suit against the Attorney General of Indiana, requesting that the state clarify the definition of midwifery. Indiana regulates nurse-midwifery, but has no statute regarding the practice of direct-entry midwifery.

From Ms. Williams' press release:
I am a Certified Professional Midwife which means that I am a fully trained and fully educated midwife and credentialed through the North American Registry of Midwives. There are two types of certified midwives in Indiana, and elsewhere in the United States - Certified Nurse Midwives and Certified Professional Midwives. In many other states across the country Certified Professional Midwives practice legally, with the sanction of the state. CPMs in these states are able to accept insurance and Medicaid reimbursement and interact fully with the medical establishment. Indiana chooses to prosecute these same CPMs with felony charges, instead of utilizing CPMs in the maternal child- health care system, which desperately needs support and re-enforcement.
Prosecuting CPMs is a short-sighted waste of money, time and effort. CPMs are not criminals or felons. They are well-trained professionals who practice with the highest of standards, who pass academic and clinical skills board exams, and undergo peer review and continuing education, just as any other health care professional does. Indiana should be incorporating these midwives into the health care system, rather than prosecuting them.
Midwifery supporters in Indiana have been trying for years to pass legislation legalizing and regulating direct-entry midwifery, but have been blocked by Sen. Patricia Miller, a nurse and the chair of the Senate Public Health Committee ("Desperate midwives: Sen. Miller continues to block legislation").

News links:
State questions legality of midwifery
Trying to boost at-home births
Midwives fight to practice in Indiana

Kemplog - Midwives vs. State and Midwife Takes Plea
**Updated 6/17/06 to add: Legal Status of Unlicensed Midwives in Indiana
Belly Tales - Homebirth Prosecution
Chai There - Calling my elected official
5 Dollars - Midwife charged in Edinburgh case