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Breast-Feeding Brouhaha

Prosecutors are trying to force a woman to stop breast-feeding her 8-year-old son, a practice that once temporarily landed the boy in foster care.

During a brief hearing Tuesday, Judge Ann Einhorn warned Lynn Stuckey, 34, against continuing the practice and set future court dates to consider the prosecutor's petition claiming neglect.

Stuckey lets her son nurse once every 10 days or so, a practice she calls natural, child-led weaning, though she's unsure whether she still produces milk.

The state took custody of the boy in July 2000 after a baby sitter called a child-abuse hot line, and he remained in foster care for several months. Einhorn had approved his homecoming, saying Stuckey was no longer nursing.

The single mother appeared on a morning talk show last month to discuss her situation, the first time she was identified publicly. The program included a tape of the boy while suckling.

"I think people need to see me and my child and realize that this is a perfectly normal practice," Stuckey said on the program. "We are your standard middle-class American family, and we're not doing anything wrong."

About a week later, prosecutor John Piland filed the petition, which alleges that Stuckey has neglected her son by placing him at risk of emotional harm; failed to correct the conditions that triggered the foster care two years ago; and exposed him to ridicule by showing the tape.

The petition does not bring criminal charges, instead asking the judge to intervene under the state's juvenile laws. The judge could terminate parental rights, but Piland would not say whether he'll seek that.

"The court has broad powers to do lots of things," he said.

A new hearing was set for Sept. 10.

The boy's father lived in Oregon during the last court test and has had little role in raising him.

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