In Eau Claire, breastfeeding and legislating don’t mix

The Eau Claire, Wis., City Council has put an end to any breastfeeding during meetings.

On a 7-to-1 vote yesterday, the council banned from the dais at City Hall children and anyone else not elected to be there.

It wasn’t aimed at children. It was aimed at mothers, specifically those who breastfeed.

“I still believe that a mother who breast-feeds when she needs to is allowed to be up on the dais. I still believe that to be true,” council member Catherine Emmanuelle said, according to the Leader-Telegram. “I know of no law that prohibits a mother from being there.”

“It’s my understanding that I’m legally protected to feed my child at my dais, at my legislative seat.”

No public testimony was taken on the issue prior to the 2.5 hours of debate. And the council canceled a public hearing on the issue on Monday.

  • Barton

    this is confusing. So, 3 councilmembers abstained, including one (who is currently breastfeeding, it seems) who says she will work with her attorney to “determine next steps?” Why didn’t she vote against it then?

    • RBHolb

      Disdain that this would even be an issue? A reluctance to vote on a measure that affects her personally (and that seems to have been targeted to her)?

      • Barton

        it totally seems to be targeted at her – which is why I don’t understand why she didn’t participate in the vote.

        I guess I really just want more explanation of why should would abstain – why any did – and why they felt this was necessary.

    • Carolie

      One should abstain from a vote in which it might be perceived as having a conflict of interest with the issue

  • Brian Simon

    I can’t help but wonder how long these meetings are that the child must be fed while they’re being conducted. Is it really that difficult to feed before the meeting? Or pump & let another caregiver feed the child?

    I’m all for getting over our cultural squeamishness over breast feeding, but it really seems like insisting on feeding while participating in a public meeting is taking it a bit too far.

    • Renae

      Babies have this funny way of not caring what meeting schedules are. If the meeting started at 6 and the baby’s tummy starts growling at 6:15 then so be it. Surely you wouldn’t want to witness a baby wail out of hunger throughout a meeting. And no, not all babies take bottles. Speaking from experience on that one.

    • Postal Customer

      Council meetings in my city, at least, can last more than four hours. That’s not an acceptable length of time for a hungry baby.

      • Brian Simon

        Babies in daycares across the county spend far more time than that away from their mothers every day.

    • Al

      Let’s talk cluster-feeding, Brian. Google it and get back to us.

    • Rob

      Dude, you just slipped into mansplaining mode.

  • asiljoy

    I would so love to see her start up her breast pump at the next meeting instead.

  • Neighbor Dave

    It’s a paid position – let me turn on C-SPAN quick…nope no breastfeeding. So wait let me get this straight, she shouldn’t have to pay out the nose for childcare like everyone else…why?

  • Angry Jonny

    You’d think a bunch of middle aged white guys from Wisconsin would be all in favor of getting a glimpse of a boob.