What is La Leche League smoking?

The breast-feeding advocates have allied themselves with a virulently antigay writer.

Published October 12, 2006 6:59PM (EDT)

La Leche League, that fervent international advocacy group for all things mammarian, has always talked a heavy nature-equals-nurture line. For the Leaguers, breast-feeding isn't only the best source of sustenance for a baby physically but the quintessential maternal experience. But now the group has gone off the milky deep end, and its swimming buddies are right-wing Christians and fanatical biological essentialists.

With their decision to book speaker Tricia Shore for an upcoming dinner celebrating the organization's 50th anniversary, the fertile founders have allied themselves with some bizarre notions of family. (Full disclosure: We got the press release tip from a group that calls itself Adoptive Parents Anti-Discrimination Committee.) Known as the "comic mom" in her stand-up career, Shore, writing under the name Tricia Smith Vaughan, has long propounded noxious views about the absurdity of "two-mommy" households and the tragedies of "artificial" family making via adoption. "I don't know why the religious only seem concerned when this family tampering occurs with homosexuals. Why does anyone, religious or not, think that forming artificial families is acceptable?" she writes.

Quoting frequently from the Bible, invoking the antiadoption mores of the 19th century, Shore derides all "non-natural" families -- including births made possible via infertility treatments, adoption, surrogacy and gay families. She tries to couch her arguments in concerns for the biological mothers who lose their babies to adoption and the surrogate moms whose bodies are supposedly used and abused. But it's a thin veil over a rabidly conservative animosity that even my dear, rabidly conservative mother-in-law wouldn't stand for. ("If God does not bless us with a child, we cheat," she quips.)

Why would La Leche League give the nod to such venomous rhetoric? Perhaps because one of Shore's purported rationales for believing only a biological mother is a real mother is its very raison d'être: breast-feeding.

UPDATE: On Friday, a Broadsheet Broadsheet letter writer tipped us off that the La Leche League has canceled Tricia Shore's appearance. A spokesperson for the organization confirmed that's true, but she wouldn't comment about why, saying only that they'd be issuing a statement later. We'll keep you posted.

By Carol Lloyd

Carol Lloyd is currently at work on a book about the gentrification wars in San Francisco's Mission District.

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