An Open Letter to Representative Debbie Riddle of Texas

Representative Riddle,

I hope you’ll take the time to read the following regarding your comments on House Bill 1706.

At a time when breastfeeding infants exclusively for the first six months of life can save our government over $13 billion dollars per year, as well as the lives of 911 babies, it would seem natural that Representatives at all levels of government would support measures to protect the rights of breastfeeding mothers.

Your comments demonstrate a lack of respect and support for breastfeeding mothers. The mothers and babies of your state deserve better.

Respectfully,

Amy West

Representative Riddle’s comments on Facebook

Representative Riddle Facebook Breastfeeding

Dictating to breastfeeding mothers that they must be “modest” when they breastfeed is not supportive. Covering up while breastfeeding is a matter between a mother and her child, period. For further information on the subject of “breastfeeding modestly,” covering up while nursing, and the oppression that takes place when outsiders dictate what a mother can and can’t do while she breastfeeds, please watch the following video:


Laws already exist protecting the rights of mothers to breastfeed their children wherever they are otherwise legally allowed to be. What people in Texas are now asking for is enforcement of those laws, so that when discrimination takes place, there is recourse available. A law without enforcement provisions has no teeth.

It is up to our judicial system to decide if a mother is justified in pursing legal action after a breastfeeding harassment issue; it is short-sighted and prejudiced to say that mothers shouldn’t have the right to pursue legal action in the first place.

Representative Riddle also made some comments that are simply disrespectful of mothers and babies. From the same thread shown above, her response to another comment:

Rep Riddle Facebook breastfeeding 2

“…I think some women are more comfortable in the privacy of their car or a ladies room.”  While that may be true, it’s not up to anyone but the mother and baby to decide when or where they will nurse. (And frankly, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a mother who enjoys breastfeeding her baby in the same room as a toilet.)

“…others are comfortable and truly modest with a light blanket draped over their shoulder and baby.”   Again, that’s up to the mother and baby. Many babies simply won’t breastfeed under a blanket or cover. Suggesting all breastfeeding dyads ought to do this is uninformed and unsupportive.

Rep Riddle Facebook breastfeeding rocket science

“Or they can drape a soft blanket over their themselves [sic] and their baby – that is what I did. It is not rocket science.”  That’s a fairly rude and dismissive statement. It’s also incredibly disrespectful of the mothers who choose not to use a cover when feeding their babies.

Luckily, Representative Riddle is not a Committee member, so she does not have a say in whether this makes it to the Texas House floor. However, when the bill hopefully does make it there, it would be fantastic to see her make an informed vote that will save both money and the lives of babies in her state. 

Support breastfeeding. Support mothers. Enforce the laws that protect their rights.

That’s really not rocket science, is it?

Update 3/14/2013, 9:30pm EST:

Breastfeeding advocate Michelle Hickman (aka, “the Target mom”) testified this week in favor of this legislation. She makes an excellent point about Rep. Riddle’s comments: 

Current Texas law allows moms to nurse in public with or without a cover, so as a representative of Texas it was fairly unprofessional of Riddle to state her opinion that moms should be covering while nursing in public on such a public forum.

Riddle’s statements are based on her own personal views and opinions, which happen to be contradictory to Texas law. Since she represents the state of  Texas on public platforms, she should refrain from making comments that undermine the current legal rights afforded to Texas moms.

If anything, Riddle’s comments help prove the need for enforcement provisions in Texas.

To find out how you can help support this bill, please request to join this Facebook group. Here are tips on how to engage with legislators on this issue. If you address Rep. Riddle, please be respectful and engage in gentle education. A lack of information is frequently the root cause of comments like these.

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{ 4 comments… add one }

Leave comment love! Or hate. I’m equal-opportunity like that.

  • Barbara March 18, 2013, 9:08 pm

    Rebreathing asphyxiation is believed to be a cause of SIDS. When Rep. Riddle nursed her babies, that was not known. Recommendations for behavior need to be made based on the latest medical research, not personal preferences. http://www.parentingscience.com/what-is-SIDS.html

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  • Kristin @ OneOrganicMama March 14, 2013, 12:50 pm

    Saw the link to your blog on conscience parenting’s fb. Love this!

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  • April March 14, 2013, 11:04 am

    Pretty awesome blog post Amy West. Kudos and I hope she reads it. Two thumbs up!

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  • Emily March 13, 2013, 7:52 pm

    Proper English grammar isn’t rocket science either, but she can’t seem to do that herself. (Her original post has a terribly confusing sentence. If someone can translate it for me, I’d appreciate) What a horrible woman, let alone politician. Without recourse, there is no reason a business, who is as close minded as this woman, would uphold the current law in TX and not harass a breastfeeding duo about how it is being carried out. As the mom to a baby who would NOT allow a cover draped, there were times that I was modest AND not covered. But, also, if possible, for a comfortable SEAT ( not for privacy) I often did go to the car if it was possible and not boiling hot – which I hear TX is. (boiling hot, that is).

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