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Mom Nearly Arrested for Breastfeeding

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Your baby's screaming for food in public. What would you do?

mary martinez breast feeding mom

Your 4-week-old baby's crying for food, your hands are full with shopping bags, and you're experiencing postpartum symptoms. Oh, and you happen to be standing in Target.

What do you do?

If you're like many moms, you nip the problem in the bud and start breastfeeding your child.

That's exactly what Mary Martinez did when she visited a Target store in Harper Woods, Michigan on Sunday.

The mother of three says that as soon as she began nursing, Target security intervened, saying nursing in public was illegal, then called the cops.

Mary was appalled, saying that breastfeeding is part of her daily routine whether she's at home or in public. Her husband Jose, a Detroit police officer, knew it isn't against the law, even in the electronics aisle at Target. What's more, the couple says the store wasn't crowded in that section at the time.

When the Harper Woods police were called to the scene, they spoke to the Martinez family until the couple and child left, totally embarrassed.

"Forcing me out of the store. Two security guards, the manager or team leader, two officers, they just made a spectacle and a scene. I feel like I can't go to that specific Target anymore," Mary Martinez said.

"I asked one of them if it was indeed illegal -- maybe in Harper Woods -- to breastfeed. He said, 'No.' And that was it. We got our stuff together and we left," says Jose Martinez.

The kicker? When Target's corporate headquarters were contacted by one television station, they came to Mary's defense, saying they do allow mothers to breastfeed in their stores. However, "This specific situation escalated to a point where we were concerned for the safety of our guests, so law enforcement was called. We regret the incident in our store and will continue to provide a shopping environment that respects the needs of all guests, including nursing mothers."

"Our security guard overreacted and misrepresented both store policy and local law, and we are ashamed that a Target employee caused the Martinez family so much trouble and embarrassment. We want to reassure our guests that nursing mothers are always welcome in our stores."

Since the incident, Mary has this to say:

She's my 3rd child and I breastfed the other two until they were two years old. I know how to be discreet."

So what do you think? Were these security guards misinformed or were they just a couple of guys squeamish at the sight of a woman breastfeeding?


next: Michelle Duggar Gives Birth to Baby No. 19
30 comments so far | Post a comment now
Chrissy December 12, 2009, 8:26 PM

Perhaps the security guards din’t know. Some states still make it illegal to breastfeed in public.
They may not have been informed.
I don;t get though if a police officer indentifies himself and shows a badge and states that its legal (something this article does not say happen)why they wouldn’t have back off.
I do wonder about the mother though.
The article doesn’t stated when this incident acorded. but Michigan has gotten a lot of snow and bitter cold in the last couple of weeks. So I hope she didn’t take her 4 week old out in that weather, Christmas time or not.
And I’m sorry but after a certain age - a mother CAN NOT be discreet breastfeeding. The child’s too big. I’ve seen two year olds crawling under their mother’s shirt or dress, or pulling it and the bra down and these mothers think nothing of it.

HeeHee December 13, 2009, 9:27 PM

What was the safety issue? Were they afraid someone would get squirted with breast milk?

Casey December 15, 2009, 11:27 AM

I am still breastfeeding my 5 month old and while personally I would go into the dressing room, I do NOT think what this mother did was wrong. Us breastfeeding should support eachother and not say that we find her behavior out of line. Her child was hungry, so she fed her. The security guard should have to take some type of sensitivity training.

factfinder December 15, 2009, 3:17 PM

This is the law on the matter as it relates to Michigan:

Breastfeeding in public is not illegal in any state of the US; however, only certain states have laws addressing public breastfeeding. Some states exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws; other states have statutes protecting a mother’s right to breastfeed in public.
If you reside in a state that does not have a law or only exempts breastfeeding from indecency laws, a private business owner may have the right to ask you not to engage in breastfeeding on the premises.
This does not mean that breastfeeding in public is illegal in these states, just that a mother has no protection in a situation where she is asked to leave a private establishment.
More information can be found at www.lalecheleague.org/LawMain.html.

Since Michigan does not have a law protecting a woman’s right to breastfeed in public, Target was within its rights to ask this this mom to leave because she was breastfeeding. Don’t take your anger at this issue out on Target by boycotting them; do something to help enact laws that that protect a mother’s right to breastfeed in public.

Outgraged Breastfeeding Mom December 16, 2009, 7:51 AM

Personally, I think this is outrageous! I am a breastfeeding mother and plan on feeding until at least 1 yr of age. Though I am personally uncomfortable with feeding in public, she did nothing wrong. Breastfeeding is what is best for a child and I feel that more should be done to make it harder to formula feed thus making breastfeeding the more encouraged option. Only in America is this even an issue. What is wrong with Americans that we have to stoop so low as to draw issue to or even contemplate laws to protect or prevent this normal occurrence or to even compare it to human excrement is so outrageous - there are no words that I can publicly convey. Further more a mother knows what is best for her child, so if feeding past 12 months is what she chooses, it is not for anyone else to judge. Grow up and get a life and stop passing judgment - especially on something that shouldn’t be as taboo as the American society makes it.

Jalessa December 16, 2009, 9:17 PM

Some of these post are ignorant! FIRST: SHE CAN HAVE HER CHILD OUT WHENEVER SHE WANTS! IF SHE LEFT THE CHILD HOME THEN YOU WOULD BE SAYING CHLID ABUSE AND 2ND: BREAST WERE MADE TO FEED YOUR CHILD NOT SHAKETHEM FOR MEN OR WERE HALTER TOPS! THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH BREADTFEEDING IN PUBLIC ESPECIALLY IF SHE IS DISCREET!! AND IF YOU DONT FEEL COMFORTABLE LEAVE OR DONT LOOK!! NO ONE IS GOING TO STARVE THEIR CHILD B.C YOUR TOO IMMATURE TO SEE A WOMEN BREASTFEEDING IN PUBLIC…

mamaknitter December 19, 2009, 9:41 PM

Breastfeeding is allowed in any areas in which the public is welcome, it is not specific per store. The idea that woman allowed to nurse in public relates to people being allowed to pee in public is ridiculous, if that is the case I ask the above poster to serve their pee as a nutritious meal to their child as you’re comparing apples to apples. Victoria Secret has 8 foot posters of woman with heaving chest and in their underwear yet a woman nursing is enough to rile people up. It seems as if the values are backwards, people seem to think if you’re showing off you body with cleavage and mini skirts it’s ok but a nursing Mom is unacceptable. I support nursing Moms and formula feeding Moms alike as it’s the hardest job ever. I wish others would realize that supporting others rather than judging them would create a more harmonious world.

Colleen Shields December 20, 2009, 9:59 AM

a note to “Darris” and whomever may remotely agree with her: I’m fairly certain you are likely a male, and of course, have never actually breast fed your child in your life. 4 wk old babies nurse on demand, you do it when and where they want to, this “excusing yourself to a private place” is beyond ridiculous. It’s a breast for God’s sake, it create milk to feed the baby. Get over it! Target should be ashamed, and I think institute “sensitivity” training, escecially for women with brand new babies.

melissa December 20, 2009, 6:59 PM

I was shopping for a new stroller while talking on the phone and nursing my daughter all at the same time. She was covered up to where everyone couldn’t see my breast. I didn’t care. I was doing three things at once because I had to.

Anonymous December 21, 2009, 1:26 AM

take the baby out in the weather???you must go out sometime,even if you have a small child!!!i have 3 children, and i tok them out when they were 4 weeks.breastfeeding is normal!!!when the baby is hungry, you feed it!!!regardless of where you are!!!i live in norway, and the police would just laugh of this here!!!stupid people…mppfff


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