No, You Don’t Have a Right to Breastfeed in a Private Business

(Photo via flickr.)

Its been some time ago that I wrote about the fact that North Dakota has a “Breastfeeding Coalition”— website and all. And no, it’s not a private organization. Instead, it functions under the North Dakota Department of Health. In fact, at the end of 2017, the coalition received a $150,000 grant in order to put “lactation suites” or “breastfeeding pods” in places like the state’s airports, zoos, and even the Fargodome. A worthy endeavor? Sure. The proper role of government? No.

Not long after we published the aforementioned article, a woman was kicked out of Chick-fil-A in Fargo for refusing to cover while breastfeeding. That story went national and has become a catalyst for legislation to change North Dakota’s existing breastfeeding law. It is House Bill 1330 and is sponsored by Rep. Gretchen Dobervich (D – District 11), a host of other Democrats, and two Republicans.

As you can see, current law already prohibits a private business from refusing to let a woman breastfeed in their establishment. What the proposed legislation would do is eliminate “in a discreet and modest manner”. Meaning, if some woman wants to whip it out in front of the entire establishment, there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

Now, full disclosure — no pun intended — my wife has breastfed every single one of our children. We’re proponents of it. It’s the natural and healthy thing to do for a child. But some folks need to stop with their inclination to impose their will upon private individuals and businesses.

Why anyone thinks it’s okay to trot into a Chick-fil-A — or any other private establishment for that matter — and tell them what is or isn’t okay on the premises is as baffling to me as it is for someone to get bent out of shape about a mother breastfeeding her baby. My wife’s right to choose the method by which she feeds our children does not — and should not — trump the private property rights of someone else. This is true whether it’s done in a discreet and modest manner or not.

In our experience, my wife’s breastfeeding when we went places wasn’t a big deal. She covered herself or went somewhere more private if the babies were fussy or uncooperative. Nobody gave us a difficult time about it— ever. In fact, I’d say that most people never even noticed. It’s amazing how that works when a person doesn’t try to flaunt what they’re doing for the world to see. Yet, if anyone ever would have said something in a private establishment, we would have respected their wishes without causing a scene over the situation. Why? Well, because it’s their business. And that’s what respectful people do when they’re on someone else’s property— even if they might disagree.

Aside from how atrocious the existing law already is in regards to private property rights, look at some of the other changes proposed in the bill. It literally changes the word “woman” to “individual”. Why do that? Does anyone else but a woman breastfeed? Do we not differentiate between women and men anymore? We’re just all “individuals”— even when it comes to breastfeeding? It’s really quite ridiculous.

What should have happened is for some legislator to propose a bill to remove this ridiculous restriction upon private property rights, not expand it. This bill needs to meet its legislative doom when it hits the House floor. And judging by the vote out of committee — which was 11-3 Do Not Pass — it looks like it may do just that. At the moment, it’s on the calendar for a vote on Monday.




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About T. Arthur Mason 874 Articles
T. Arthur Mason is a native North Dakotan who has spent nearly all of his life in the Peace Garden State. As the third of four children in Western North Dakota, Mason grew to appreciate family and the outdoors. Some of his fondest memories are annual deer hunts with family and friends. In his early teenage years, faith became a central part of T. Arthur Mason's life. He and the majority of his family attend church together on a weekly basis and find this a fulfilling aspect of their lives. Through the influence of his father, T. Arthur Mason became intrigued with politics. As a boy, he attended political events with his father and enjoyed the friendships that resulted as a byproduct of those political associations. As Mason grew older, he became convinced that the quote often attributed to Thomas Jefferson was true, "That government is best which governs least." Today, T. Arthur Mason enjoys time with his wife and children, an occasional hunt, and an increasingly active life on the political scene. This blog is the fulfillment of a dream to design a web site in the realm of politics and to advocate for the principles of Liberty and constitutionally limited government. On behalf of all those that contribute to The Minuteman, we hope you enjoy your time on the site and will share the message with others.