Natalie Hegedus, Mom, Kicked Out Of Courtroom For Breastfeeding

Nov 17, 2011 by

Saw this over on the HuffPost and had to share it here…

Story from: The Huffington Post, By Emma Gray

Apparently, feeding your child is something to be ashamed of — at least according to one district court judge. Michigan resident and mother of a 5-month-old baby, Natalie Hegedus, was reportedly “called out” for breastfeeding in front of an entire courtroom, leaving her humiliated and in tears.

Writing on the community forum, BabyCenter, after the incident, Hegedus said she only brought her son to court in the first place because he had an ear infection. As they were waiting to be called, he got hungry — and so naturally, she decided to feed him. Hegedus says her breasts were fully covered and she was sitting at the back of the courtroom.

When the court bailiff noticed what she was doing, WoodTV reports that he wrote a note to the judge about it. Hegedus was called up, and the judge asked her whether she believed it was appropriate to be breastfeeding in court. She shared her response with WoodTV:

I said, “Considering the fact that my son is hungry, and he’s sick, and the fact that it’s not illegal, I don’t find it inappropriate … And the judge said something to the effect of ‘It’s my court, it’s my decision and I do find it inappropriate.'”

Although Hegedus’ post on BabyCenter received an outpouring of supportive comments from fellow parents (there are currently over 70 responses to her initial post) and breastfeeding in public is legal, when WoodTV reached out to the Chief Judge of the district court in question, he seemed to feel that any national response to the incident was unwarranted. In an official statement, he said:

I’m not defending this judge, I just don’t think it is a story. This is abuse of the information age. A one to two sentence exchange has now turned into a national story.

However, this is far from the first time that a woman has been castigated for breastfeeding in public. It’s not even the first time for it to happen in court — in August 2010, a woman in Crawford County, AR was told to leave the courtroom while breastfeeding.

Was it inappropriate for Hegedus to breastfeed in the courtroom? Or was it the judge that behaved inappropriately? Let us know.

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Michelle

Michelle is the founder & manager of CTWorkingMoms.com. She lives in Hartford County with her husband Dan and toddler Lillian. She believes in equality, kindness and compassion and tries to let those beliefs guide her daily life.

5 Comments

  1. bernhardsonbunch

    I see it this way:

    If her son was hungry, and she’d taken out a bottle and fed him, would she have been asked to leave? Heck no.

    So yes, I think its completely inappropriate that this happened. At the least an apology NEEDS to be issued immediately.

  2. bernhardsonbunch

    A woman was asked to leave a beach near where I live last summer for nursing on the beach. She had two older children swimming and didn’t want to drag them out, dry them off, and retreat to the car (understandably!). I will never understand why people can’t just get over themselves and look away if they can’t handle watching a baby eat! Uggggh.

  3. Doesn’t the law protect women from this kind of discrimination?

  4. Laws in many states have some kind of protection for women allowing them to breastfeed in public places. I don’t know the nuances of all of them, and I don’t know what kind of law applied in this situation. I have mixed feelings about breastfeeding as a person about to appear in court, as opposed to in a place like a park or mall. Let me first say that the judge handled the situation extremely poorly and unprofessionally. I was thinking of what I would do in the same situation, although when I’m in court I’m there representing a client, not appearing on my own behalf, so maybe it would be a bit different. But either way, I do think it would be extremely rude and disrespectful to, say, open up a granola bar and start munching while I was sitting in court and then getting up before the judge. And in that case, I would expect the judge to make a comment about it. On the other hand, a nursing baby is a lot different. They absolutely need to eat when they are so little, and although I would personally choose to pump and leave my baby at home if I need to go to court, I don’t see what the big deal was for this mom to nurse, if she absolutely needed to, in the courtroom. This is especially so if she wasn’t making a big scene out of it or exposing too much boob. So, ultimately, I think the judge was wrong here and should have just chilled the hell out. Hopefully societal norms are changing so that this becomes less of a big deal.

  5. As long as the mom was covering her breast while feeding the baby what was the big deal? would the Judge as her to leave if she was bottle feeding the baby? Are children allowed in court? I feel if she was covering herself it shouldnt be a problem

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