I'm a full-time work outside the home, milk pumping mom going on month 37 of nursing between two kids and I couldn't believe my ears this past Sunday when I watched Time magazine's Joe Klein on Meet the Press with former presidential speechwriter/Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan.
When David Gregory asked about the mood among average Americans, Klein had something derisive to say about a provision in the recently passed healthcare bill that called for businesses of a certain size to set aside a room for breastfeeding mothers.
According to Joe, during his recent listening tour of middle America, many folks feel this is an example of "ridiculous provisions" in legislation pushed by Democrats. As the link above explains, he went on to buttress the comment by saying that his dad had run a small business and would have let a nursing mom use his office if needed, presumably without any intrusive government legislation.
I was a bit apoplectic at the time but spewed forth to my husband about the many blogs and articles I've read about nursing moms forced to pump in janitor closets reeking of chemicals, conference rooms in distant buildings (if available) with no door locks, and other situations that made it tough, if not impossible to pump effectively after returning to workplaces that were less-than-supportive of the needs of working moms. We're talking in 2010!
Using Joe's argument, civil rights legislation in the 1960s presumably would also have been unnecessary since there were some people (somewhere) who had no problem hiring people of color. As the article's author Peter Hart so succinctly put it:
Perhaps working mothers should all work for someone like Joe Klein's father. Since that's not possible, then maybe laws to protect such workers are necessary after all.
Just last week I pumped in my car because there wasn't a convenient place to pump at a simulated emergency exercise in which I participated. Fortunately, I have tinted rear windows and I'm an old hand at this pumping process. I shudder to think of a new mom who's newly-returned to work and stressed about leaving her baby and getting back into the swing of things having to manage in this way. "Relax and let down" would be a challenge, to say the least.
I think there should be a 'walk in my shoes' requirement for Joe and others like him who see simple accommodations for nursing moms as too cumbersome or symbols of government intrusion. They should have to spend a couple days packing and carrying a breast pump, a laptop bag or other tools of a trade, and lunch to their workplace. Once there, they have to find a sanitary, discrete place to hook it up and actually use the pump while eating lunch, preferably a couple times each day.
Extra points if they can do so at a traditionally male-dominated workplace/industry and, of course, major points if they successfully express any fluid . THEN tell me what a crock it is that businesses with more than 50 employees should be required to do this. Until then, shut your non-engorged, no first-hand experience pie holes.