Two Minnesota women who were confronted at a public pool for breastfeeding say they plan to file a discrimination lawsuit. And over the weekend, dozens of other moms launched their own, special protest outside the pool to support the two women.
Last Wednesday, Stephanie Buchanan and Mary Davis were in the kiddie pool with their children at the Aquatic Center in Mora, about 60 Miles north of Minneapolis. When Buchanan's three-month-old son, Roman, got hungry, Buchanan started nursing him.
"A patron came up, a lady at the pool, and told me that I needed to cover up," Buchanan says.
Davis then started breastfeeding her child in solidarity. A pool employee asked them to cover up or move to the locker room. They refused and decided to leave the pool. That's when a police officer approached them.
"I said 'Minnesota state law protects me to feed my baby anywhere that I need to,'" Buchanan says. "He said, 'I understand, and I let the establishment know, but they reserve the right to ask you to leave.'"
The women say they were humiliated at first. But then dozens of fellow moms showed up in Mora over the weekend and nursed their children outside the pool. The outpouring of support online, and at the so-called nurse-in protest, encourages their efforts to advocate for breastfeeding moms.
"To get such an overwhelming community and state response form not just moms, but dads and other family members have been amazing," Buchanan says.
Minnesota law says: "A mother may breastfeed in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be…"
Officials with the city and the Aquatic Center issued an apology, saying, "While we always have supported nursing mothers, the situation inside of the kiddie pool made many patrons uncomfortable." They added, "neither woman was asked to leave."
"It fell short of our expectations," Davis says. "I think it fell short."
All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location.
Another nurse-in protest outside the Aquatic Center is planned for next month.