Lactivists converge in airports

Women stage "nurse-ins," breast-feeding their children at airports around the country.

Sarah Goldstein
November 23, 2006 12:55AM (UTC)

Back on the breast beat! Protesting mothers staged "nurse-ins" at more than 30 airports across the country on Tuesday, in response to Delta-affiliated Freedom Airlines' removal of Emily Gillette, 27, from a flight last month. Gillette was booted for refusing to cover her 1-year-old daughter with an airline blanket wihle breast-feeding her.

One of the larger lactating circles was at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, Delta's hub in Atlanta, where about 30 women and children parked beside a bustling Delta ticket counter, the Los Angeles Times reports. "I strongly believe all babies have a right to breast milk," one mother, who had driven an hour to join the women in Hartsfield, told the Times. "And I don't think mothers should have to go to the bathroom and cover up."


Indeed, the lactivists, as they call themselves, aren't just about breast milk and honey -- Gillette has filed a complaint with the Vermont Human Rights Commission, which oversees discrimination allegations, and she has not ruled out the possibility of further legal action. According to the Times, all but 12 states have laws allowing women to nurse their children in public. Gillette, who nursed at the Albuquerque, N.M., airport, said, "I think I'm the first one to get kicked off a plane. But I'm certainly not the first to be harassed."

Since throwing Gillette off the plane, Delta has disciplined the offending flight attendant, and claims to "fully support a woman's right to breast-feed her baby on board our aircraft." So much to be thankful for this year.

Sarah Goldstein

Sarah Goldstein is an editorial fellow at Salon.

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