Monday’s “lactivist” protest on the front lawn of the Columbia County Justice Center certainly stirred passions.
Versions of the story appearing on Web sites for The News-Times and The Augusta Chronicle were heavily debated through reader comments.
The event wasn’t so much protest as it was an effort to raise awareness of an issue: The fear of breast-feeding mothers that they’ll be arrested if they nurse their children in public. It was part of a statewide “Nurse-In,” held in locations where it could get the most visibility.
Those with passionate views on the topic, like many other issues with such stark divisions, seem to have difficulty meeting the other side in the middle. Proponents say nursing moms should be left alone, no matter the venue or circumstance. Opponents insist breastfeeding should be done only in private.
Yet there is a middle ground, and most nursing moms regularly find it. As we showed on the cover of last Sunday’s paper, we aren’t talking about the surreptitious sexuality of little boys peeking at topless tribes in a National Geographic. Nursing mothers, for the most part, are exceptionally discreet. They’re feeding their baby; they aren’t exhibitionists.
Medical professionals continue to make it clear that breast milk is the healthiest food for infants. We could easily make the argument that society has a vested interest in helping to raise healthy children.
But an even better argument is that, in a free society, people should sometimes just butt out of things that aren’t their business – and how a mom feeds her child is rarely anyone’s business but hers.