The Mora Aquatic Center is a popular place on hot summer days. It is known as a welcome place for everyone. Well, almost everyone, we should say: Two mothers were asked to leave the pool last week after other patrons complained to staff about the moms’ public breastfeeding of their children.
Stephanie Buchanan and her sister-in-law, Mary Davis, took six kids to the pool on Wednesday, 7/18, for a nice, refreshing swim.
Now, we all know that swimming works up an appetite. Sometimes we order pizza or grill hot dogs or drink pop and eat potato chips. Babies, unfortunately, aren’t old enough to enjoy these things. And when Buchanan’s 3-month-old son, Roman, got hungry while enjoying his time in the kiddie pool, she slipped down the strap of her one-piece to feed him.
It was then that she was interrupted by another guest.
As Buchanan told WCCO, “A patron came up, a lady, at the pool and told me that I needed to cover up because her sons were swimming.”
A staff member also asked her to cover up, or leave the public area to breastfeed in a locker room instead. When she refused, the staff called the police, and Buchanan and Davis then decided to leave the pool.
After Buchanan detailed the incident in a Facebook post, more than a dozen moms returned to the site of the confrontation to publicly nurse their children. Some drove from over 90 miles away to join the “nurse-in” that took place on the following Saturday.
“It was really emotional. It’s amazing,” Buchanan said. “We’re really, really thankful for all of the support that we’ve received.”
Public breastfeeding is not against the law
But women are still being shamed for breastfeeding in public. While that’s not likely to change anytime soon, breastfeeding women in all 50 states can at least now say that they have the law on their side.
Minnesota law specifically states,
“A mother may breast-feed in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breast-feeding.”
And the word “public,” of course, includes swimming pools.
The city of Mora, as a response, wrote on its website that it supports nursing mothers. Their statement is as follows:
“We apologize to Ms. Ellingson-Buchanan and Ms. Davis if they were offended by how they were treated. Although we cannot anticipate all possible scenarios, City policies and procedures will be reviewed and revised as deemed necessary.”
The two mothers have plans to file discrimination claims against the city of Mora and Kanabec County.
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