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Massachusetts Moms– Call Today to Help Pass Breastfeeding Law

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Did you know that Massachusetts is one of only 5 states that doesn’t have a breastfeeding law to protect moms and babies? In fact, moms have no legal protection if they want to breastfeed in public in Massachusetts.
There is a bill that could change that, but it’s stuck in a committee right now. Tanya at The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog has a great explanation of what’s going on in the Commonwealth, my home state. She writes:
The Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition is urging calls to the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, especially today (Thursday, 12/7). SB 2704 is stalled in this committee, and the bill is encountering opposition from restaurant owners. They are urging calls to Chairman DeLeo of the House Ways and Means Committee at 617-722-2990. I just called, and it was quick and easy! You can find talking points here.
Unfortunately I don’t live in Beantown anymore, so my call won’t count. But yours could help. Click on Tanya’s post for more information. And help make Massachusetts the progressive state that it claims to be.

Tragic End– Missing Man Found Dead

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Authorities have found the body of James Kim, the San Francisco man who got lost with his family during a snow storm in Oregon. Kim’s wife, Kati, and their two daughters survived. Kati breastfed the four year old and the seven month old when they ran out of food. They were found Monday in their car. James had left the car on foot, hoping to find help for his wife and kids.
Kim was a senior editor at CNET. This is a website set up by the Kim family.

Lost Mom Saves Her Kids By Breastfeeding

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This is a truly remarkable story.
A San Francisco family was stranded in the snowy Oregon wilderness for nine days, and the mom kept her kids alive by breastfeeding them. The four year old and seven month old are doing well now. The San Francisco Chronicle has details of their trip and how they got lost. ABC News has a piece on how breast milk kept the kids alive.
Unfortunately, the father is still missing. He left his wife and kids to try to get help.

Dallas Nurse In A Success

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They came, they saw, they nursed!
Twenty-seven adults and twenty-nine kids (according to organizers) met at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport for their nurse-in. This time, the police let them stay. That’s Texas justice for you!
The Mommy Blawg has a fantastic description of the events at DFW including a power outage in the middle of the whole thing. She also had this insightful commentary:
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”.

Dallas Nurse In Rescheduled For Friday

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A long, long time ago, I lived in Dallas. I was there for a summer job during law school. During my stint in “The Big D” I discovered that the cowboy motif was alive and well. I learned to say “inn-surance” (emphasis on “in”) instead of “in-sur-ance” (emphasis on “sur”). And I realized I was essentially considered a foreigner since I was from Boston.
So, why in the world, you ask, did a New England girl who wore a lot of black and didn’t have big hair go to Texas? I went there for a guy, of course. And once that relationship ended I never went back. Since then, I’ve only passed through the airport on a cross-country trip. And from what I remember, that is one big airport.
So those ladies in Dallas have their work cut out for them tomorrow. Last week, during the nationwide nurse-in, police at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport turned away the moms and babes who showed up. Well now they’re coming back on Friday and holding another nurse in at 10 am at the Delta ticket counter. To see a copy of the press release, click on the word “comments” at the bottom of this entry.
You probably recall that this was all started when Emily Gillette was kicked off a Delta commuter flight (operated by Freedom Airlines) for breast feeding her daughter. During the nationwide nurse in, roughly 850 people gathered at 40 airports across the country.
After tomorrow, we should be able to add the Texas crew to the rally tally. So ladies, since everything– especially the airport– really is bigger in Texas, make sure you go to Terminal E. Remember, don’t mess with Texas!

Nationwide Nurse In on Tuesday

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For the past couple of days I’ve been watching a grass roots movement in action. Moms across the country are getting together, via the internet, to organize a nationwide nurse in on Tuesday, November 21st. They’ve been galvanized by the story of Emily Gillette, the mom who was kicked off a Freedom Airlines flight (a commuter flight for Delta) for breastfeeding. Moms who have never met each other before are talking about meeting at 10 am, at Delta counters around the country. They’re drafting press releases, making t-shirts, discussing logistics, even debating the merits of organizing the event. It’s pretty cool to watch this unfold.
If you want to find specific information about the nurse in, you can check out this Yahoo Chat group. You can also check out ProMom and Mothering.
Click onto any of these links to see the internet — and some spirited women– in action.

International Breast Feeding Symbol

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the contest Mothering magazine was running to create an new international breast feeding symbol. The idea is that there should be something similar to the signs which indicate no smoking, or a ladies room or handicapped access. So at long last, breast feeding moms, there’s something for you too. Drum rollllllllll please….here’s the winner.
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The magazine has made the image available copyright free, for use in the public domain. That means anyone can download it. Go to Mothering to download the symbol for your own use, and to read what the magazine has to say about the symbol. Here’s an excerpt:
The purpose of an international symbol for breastfeeding is to increase public awareness of breastfeeding, to provide an alternative to the use of a baby bottle image to designate baby friendly areas in public, and to mark breastfeeding friendly facilities…(S)ometimes there are no chairs in public, sometimes nowhere to change the baby, or for the mother separated from her baby, nowhere to plug in an electric breast pump. Mothers welcome quiet, private places in public where they can collect themselves and their children. The symbol could designate these kinds of places. In addition, businesses could use this symbol to designate a lactation room, required now by law in California. Restaurants could use the image to let moms know, “Breastfeeding welcome here.”
You can also read an interview with the creator of the symbol, Matt Daigle of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He is a stay-at-home dad, freelance graphic designer, and cartoonist. He and his wife have a one-year-old son.

Elizabeth Vargas Fake Breast Feeding Photo Update

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A few days ago I wrote about how Marie Claire magazine published a fake photo of ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas breast feeding. I’ve now had a chance to review the article, and here’s my take.
The piece is nothing earth shattering. It’s a Q &A about Vargas’ career and family. What do we learn? That she’s not exactly like the rest of us– she has a cook, an immaculate apartment and she’s married to the singer Marc Cohn. Not to mention she is one of THE stars of ABC news. (You may remember she and Bob Woodruff were supposed to be the future of ABC’s evening news. They were named co-anchors after Peter Jennings died. Then Woodruff got seriously injured in Iraq and Vargas got pregnant. So now she’s back at 20/20 and Charlie Gibson has the anchor job). But in other ways she is like the rest of us. She has to figure out how to balance work and family. When she was anchoring the evening news, her son wouldn’t go to sleep until she got home.
As for that photo…from my perspective, there is no reason your average reader would think it was a fake. The story byline says “By Judith Newman, Photo Illustration by Eric Cahan.” Does that mean anything to any of you? Certainly not to me. I just don’t get what Marie Claire was thinking. Didn’t it occur to them that most people wouldn’t get the distinction, and that ultimately, someone (Drudge) would point out the liberties they took?
The Boston Herald ran a story on this today. There was an additional comment from Marie Claire:
“We wanted an arresting, satirical image to make the reader stop and read this important story about what happens when job and family collide. This is an image illustration and is stated so with the byline of this story.”
Wouldn’t a real photo have made the case just as strongly?
Oh, and by the way, the photo at the top of this entry is from The Boston Herald. Just wouldn’t want anyone to be confused.

Mom Kicked Off Plane For Breast Feeding

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File this one under– you’ve got to kidding.
A New Mexico mom says Freedom Airlines kicked her off a flight for breastfeeding her daughter on board the plane. The plane was waiting to take off from an airport in Burlington, Vermont, when 27 year-old Emily Gillette says a flight attendant asked her to put a blanket over the baby’s head. Gillette says she refused. That’s when a Delta ticketing agent asked Gillette and her husband and daughter to get off the plane. Freedom was operating the Delta flight between Burlington and New York City.
Now, imagine for a minute you are a passenger on this plane. Which would you prefer– (a) or (b). (A) listening to a screaming, miserable baby on your flight, and maybe, by chance, feeling a little odd about the slight potential that you could see a little bit of the mom’s boob. Or (B), contentedly– in silence– reading your trashy novel, working on your lap top, listening to your iPod, or trying to meditate to transport yourself away from the sardine box in which you are all crammed. I’m sure most of you picked (B), thinking, “Just feed the poor child and make the crying stop already!!” And if you picked (A), think about how you would feel if the flight attendant said, “Sorry, no pretzels for you on your flight today.”
But back to the story at hand…
Here’s what a Freedom Spokesperson had to say about the incident to The Boston Globe:
“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, 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.”
Gillette has filed a complaint with the Vermont Human Rights Commission as well as Delta and Freedom Airlines. She told the Burlington Free Press she’d like to see the airlines change their policies. In addition, she’d like the airlines to make a donation to an organization of her choice and give her another trip.

Elizabeth Vargas Breast Feeding– Photo is a Fake

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Here is the latest from the Drudge Report:
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Marie Claire magazine has published a fake photo of ABC News’ “20/20″ anchor Elizabeth Vargas breast feeding. I have to go pick up the December issue of the magazine to see for myself. But here’s what Drudge has to say:
A source close to the anchor says Vargas’ is disappointed but has a sense of humor about the whole thing.
“Elizabeth was more than happy to sit for the interview but was disturbed that the magazine would set aside basic journalistic standards to photoshop her head onto a fake image. Vargas did joke that her real baby is cuter, that she is proud to breastfeed her newborn but wouldn’t do it at the anchor desk and that she wouldn’t be caught dead in that ugly gold blouse!”
A MARIE CLAIRE spokesperson counters: “There isn’t a working mother who can’t relate to this image and immediately identify with the very real dilemma Elizabeth Vargas wrestled with. We do not believe anyone seriously thought she would nurse and report the news the same time! This is an image illustration and is stated so with the byline of this story. We only want to make the point that women choosing between their career and being a parent is a tough decision that we are very sensitive to. We at MARIE CLAIRE think that Vargas is a great journalist and we look forward to watching her on 20/20. We are also grateful for her interview, which we hope reaches the many women who can relate to this serious topic.”

Here are my thoughts:
First, I really like Elizabeth Vargas. I like her reporting style. And on the superficial side, she always has great clothes and hair! Plus, I used to be a former television reporter, so I can relate to the challenges she must face as a working mom. Television news, like many professions, is incredibly demanding on your time. It can be unpredictable. You can be called off to work at the drop of a hat. It’s not easy then to find a balance between work and family. So hats of to Vargas for pulling it off. I’m looking forward to seeing what she says in the interview.
Second, as a former reporter, I simply don’t understand why Marie Claire would feel the need to fake a photograph. It’s wrong journalistically. They didn’t need to do an “image illustration” — or whatever that is, as they call it– in order to make the point that being a working mom is tough. We know that. No news there. Besides which, the photo doesn’t exactly support that point. Where’s the burp cloth? Everything looks just a little too perfect. No one is that poised when breast feeding.
So, it will be interesting to see how this story develops. As they say, stay tuned…