This mom says she was rudely thrown out of a courtroom for breastfeeding
If there’s one place people should be familiar with public breastfeeding laws, it’s in a courtroom, right? Well, unfortunately that’s not the case. A 25-year-old North Carolina mom is speaking out this week after she was shamed by a judge and asked to leave the courtroom for breastfeeding her eight-month-old son during a custody hearing.
Stephanie Rodus was in a Henderson County court as a defendant, trying to regain custody of her eight-year-old son from her mother, when her eight-month-old, Archer, grew hungry and started fussing. Rhodus did what any mom would do, and started feeding the baby right then and there, but surprisingly the judge wasn’t having it.
In audio from the court room, judge Peter Knight can be heard scolding Rhodus, saying, “Ma’am, you need to cover up. For you not to realize that is absolutely ridiculous. Step outside, and cover up right now. Stand up, and go.” The judge said he didn’t take issue with Archer being present in court, but added, “To nurse a child in the courtroom is just absolutely inappropriate. Step outside and button up.” You can listen to it here:
Inappropriate? Step outside and button up? She’s not trying to give a courtroom peep show. She’s feeding a hungry baby, for goodness sake!
Rhodus tells ABC News she was humiliated by the encounter and couldn’t even bring herself to explain to the judge that her right to breastfeed publicly is protected by law in North Carolina. “I was shocked,” she recalled. “He was so condescending and so aggressive, and I knew that by law I had the right to breastfeed my child there, and I wanted to declare that I had the right to do that there, but I was terrified.”
Ultimately, Rhodus stopped breastfeeding her son and tried to continue with her trial. The judge ended up ruling against her, issuing a six-month protective order prohibiting the mom from seeing her older son. Rhodus claims she firmly believes the breastfeeding incident swayed his decision. “He had no interest in what I was telling him,” she said.
It’s impossible to say for sure whether Rhodus’ breastfeeding really did impact the ruling, but either way, this judge was completely out of line. He not only belittled a mom for feeding her child, but he acted as though breastfeeding were something sick and wrong — like she was trying to put her boobs on display for the court rather than provide sustenance to a hungry baby.
It seems like there’s a new, outrageous story about breastfeeding shaming almost every week, and I think I speak for all moms when I say we’re getting pretty fucking sick of it. Breastfeeding is not inappropriate, it’s not the same thing as flashing your boobs, and moms shouldn’t be forced to cover up unless they feel more comfortable doing so. New babies are born every day, and moms aren’t going to stop feeding them just because someone can’t handle a boob being used for it’s intended purpose. Get a grip, breastfeeding shamers.