Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Nursing Moms Stage Airport Protests

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. -- With babies at their breasts, nursing mothers staged airport protests around the country Tuesday after a woman was ordered off a plane last month for breast-feeding her daughter too openly.

About 25 women turned out at Burlington International Airport, sitting on the floor near a Delta Air Lines ticket counter amid signs saying "Don't be lactose intolerant" and "Breasts - Not just for selling cars anymore."

Similar actions were planned at more than two dozen other airports.

"We're not here to blame anyone," said Chelsea Clark, 31, wearing a "Got breast milk?" T-shirt as she nursed her 9-week-old son in Burlington. "It's about raising consciousness about our culture's sexualization of the breast. Breast-feeding needs to be supported wherever and whenever it happens."

Emily Gillette, 27, of New Mexico was ordered off a Freedom Airlines flight about to leave Burlington International Airport on Oct. 13 after a flight attendant asked her to cover up with a blanket while breast-feeding her 1-year-old daughter. Gillette refused and was removed.

The airline, which operated the commuter flight for Delta, later disciplined the unidentified worker. But the incident struck a nerve with women's rights supporters.

At Boston's Logan International Airport, Ali Crehan Feeney came with her 3-year-old daughter Moira, who wore a pink T-shirt with the phrase "Little Lactivist" written on the front.

"We're just appalled that was allowed to happen," Feeney said.