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Women Stage Breastfeeding Protest at Arizona McDonald's


On August 12, Clarissa Bradford and her family, including her 5-month-old son, were asked by an assistant manager to leave a Phoenix AZ McDonald’s restaurant because she was nursing her baby. On Saturday, dozens of mothers protested the eviction by staging a “nurse-in” at the same restaurant. Although the restaurant owner has offered Bradford an apology, she hopes the news of the protest will educate business owners on public breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is a right

“A mom needs to be able to nurse her baby wherever she goes,” said Rachel Starchman, a mother who participated in the nurse-in. “You are giving them the best you can do as a mother,” said Alisa Ilardo, another demonstrator.

They estimate that about 100 people were in the restaurant at the time, and no sign of resistance from restaurant employees. Starchman said that the atmosphere was relaxed and a few even purchased food.

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Public breastfeeding laws differ from state to state. Arizona is among 44 states that have laws with language that specifically allows women to breastfeed in any public or private location. Arizona statute 41-1443 states that “A mother is entitled to breast-feed in any area of a public place or a place of public accommodation where the mother is otherwise lawfully present.” In addition, many states have added legislation that exempts public breastfeeding from “indecent exposure” laws.

As part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, section 4207 amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to require an employer with over 50 employees to provide a reasonable break time for a new mother to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth. The employer must also provide a place, other than a bathroom, for the employee to express breast milk.

Ilardo said the group was not upset with McDonald’s, but wanted to make a statement about public breastfeeding. “It was just someone’s bad judgment, but we need to keep people from treating moms like this,” she said.

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Well done, ladies!