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April 10, 2012 at 4:00 PM

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Seattle City Council unanimously OKs breast-feeding ordinance

Matter of public decorum

I believe the Seattle City Council has erred in passing legislation protecting breast-feeding in public places. [“Seattle City Council unanimously OKs breast-feeding ordinance,”, April 9.]

In my view, the tipping point is the prohibition against asking a nursing mother to cover up. Certainly, a mother has the same right to frequent a public establishment as anyone and this right is not limited by the need to feed an infant when necessary. However, I think it is reasonable in contemporary society to expect that nursing mothers plan ahead to provide breast milk in bottles for feeding infants in public. When circumstances make this impractical, she should cover herself, and if she declines either the proprietor or a patron should be free to ask her to do so without fear of punitive action.

This is not a rights issue as it has been treated in the media; it is, rather, a matter of public decorum. In passing this legislation, the council has conferred an unearned privileged status, in the guise of a right, upon a self-selected group.

— John Billings, Seattle

Stigma should be removed

I am writing to encourage support for the efforts of City Councilmember Bruce Harrell in designing city laws that support women who are attempting to breast-feed.

Breast-feeding is without question in the best interest of the health of both infants and women. This is supported by massive amounts of scientific evidence.

Yet our culture is still crippled by the illogical notion that female breasts are designed for sexual attraction, and has designated them as such. The shame that this mis-designation imparts to the act of breast-feeding is deeply unfortunate, acting to dissuade mothers from feeding their infants in the way that best supports their mutual health. As we know, this shameful stigma compels many women to attempt to breast-feed in places that are awkward and/or unsanitary, making this natural and vital process inconvenient and unappealing.

The right thing to do is to enact laws protecting women breast-feeding in public spaces. Such laws will discourage those who attempt to shame these mothers from doing what’s best for their infants, and encourage more women to take up a fundamental feeding and nurturing practice that benefits all.

— Ann Ziegler, LPN, Seattle

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