Breastfeeding battle heats up

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by JOBIN PANICKER / WFAA

WFAA

Posted on April 11, 2013 at 9:03 AM

FORT WORTH — A breastfeeding battle is brewing in Fort Worth. And with eight in 10 Texas moms trying breastfeeding — and more than 13 percent breastfeeding "exclusively" — some see it as a battle worth fighting.

Three simple letters — "Ick" — set off a firestorm after being published as part of a response to a question about the propriety of breastfeeding during a church service. The response was part of an advice column published in Fort Worth, Texas Magazine.

"I have a very hard time with "ick,'" said Jennifer Kent with La Leche League, a group that strongly supports breastfeeding and informs people about it. "It made my blood pressure rise when I read the article."

The article — titled Distracting Behavior — resulted in hundreds of e-mails, phone calls, and Facebook posts bashing Molly Forthright's "For What It's Worth" advice column in the March issue of Fort Worth Magazine.

"I was in church last Sunday, and a woman in the row ahead of me began breastfeeding halfway through the service," said the person seeking advice in the article. "I'm a big proponent of women breastfeeding their babies, but it was very distracting during a time that I wanted to focus on the sermon ... What is proper church etiquette?"

"Ick. I know that many think a woman providing nourishment to her baby is a beautiful and natural thing, but putting on a show in the house of the Lord is unacceptable in my book," Forthright replied. "In fact, I can’t think of a place in public where I would want to ever see that."

"I think if a mother wants to stay in the service and be spiritually fed, it shouldn't be a problem," Kent said.

Magazine owner and publisher Hal Brown dismissed the hullabaloo. "It was simply a writer giving her opinion, which is what this column is all about."

Brown added he is fully supportive of breastfeeding, but he also says he's not going to apologize for staff writers.

Molly Forthright told News 8 she supports breastfeeding, but believes in being discreet.

Many churches have special rooms for breastfeeding moms. But one pastor at a Fort Worth church said it could be a distraction for people in the pews. He doesn't buy the argument that because breastfeeding is natural, it should be accepted everywhere.

"There are a lot of natural things that we don't do necessarily in public," the pastor said.

Kent said a nurse-in will be staged outside the magazine's headquarters in Fort Worth on Friday, and she expects close to 75 people to attend.

E-mail jpanicker@wfaa.com

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