A Pennsylvania mother is furious this week after she says a judge ordered her to stop breastfeeding so that the father of her daughter could have overnight visits with the child.
Jessica Moser, a Northampton County resident, told local station WFMZ that the judge presiding over her custody case had ruled she must stop breastfeeding her 10-month-old daughter, Jasmine, or risk losing the child altogether.
"I'm feeling frustrated, hurt," Moser said. "I'm trying to keep myself from crying, it's very emotional."
Jasmine is still breastfeeding and won't drink from bottles, Moser explained to the outlet. The mother stressed she's "very passionate" about her right to breastfeed and believes "breast is best" at her daughter's age.
Indeed, the World Health Organization recommends children be breastfed exclusively during the first six months and then gradually receive complementary foods, in addition to breast milk, until age 2.
However, the way courts take breastfeeding into consideration during custody proceedings -- if they do at all -- is generally determined on a state-by-state basis, according to the International Lactation Consultant Association.
Writing on Mommyish, blogger Frances Locke notes that a father certainly has the right to visitations with his daughter; however, those rights must never override the best interests of the child:
Plenty of divorced parents manage to work out a visitation schedule that works for everyone. Whether it’s because of breastfeeding, school, extra-curricular activities, or something else, there are things that stand in the way of a convenient visit, and as parents we have to deal with that. Unless there are details that haven’t come out yet, I think the judge in this case is a douche and the father should be ashamed.
Breastfeeding seems to be constantly in the news, as mothers around the country fight to protect their right to breastfeed in public and in the workplace. In one of the latest cases, Pennsylvania mother Bobbi Bockoras, an employee at a glass-bottling plant, said she was forced to pump in a dirty locker room while on the job.
The American Civil Liberties Union has since filed a civil complaint against Bockoras' employers, alleging that her treatment is in violation of a provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires mothers be given a clean, safe place to pump breast milk at work.