Danielle Bell was breastfeeding her 3 month old baby, Penelope, in Johnston County court while waiting to see the judge about a traffic offence when she was approached by a courtroom deputy who asked her to leave. The reason the deputy gave for removing her was that there were no kids under 12 allowed in the courtroom.
It's perfectly understandable that they have rules, but you'd think that they could maybe understand a mother having to feed her baby as a little more pressing an issue!
Furthermore, state and federal law permits women to breastfeed in public facilities, and Bell says that her baby was covered by a sling as well so she wasn't exposing herself. Regardless though, a mother should surely be able to feed her child when the child is freakin' hungry!
Bell says that the deputy would not shift on the matter and so she had to leave. Talking about her experience to WRAL, Bell said that she felt "discriminated against," and explained that "his is the way she survives – by breastfeeding – because she refuses a bottle."
Thankfully her husband was waiting for her outside, so Bell was able to leave Penelope with him while she went in to see District Court Judge Resson Faircloth. However, the judge reiterated the scolding and insisted that she was not to bring the baby back again! The judge seemingly has no consideration for mother's who are unable to afford child care or find a babysitter.
Bell said that she told the Judge, "If leave her home, she's unable to eat." While this may seem like a perfectly adequate reason to have her baby with her to normal people, Judge Faircloth wasn't so fair about it.
Faircloth reportedly told Bell, "that was not his problem and that, if had any other excuse, he was going to take that day and have me put in contempt."
Bell continued: "That's when I walked out of the courtroom crying I definitely have fear of going back to the courthouse. I am worried about the consequences that will happen." It is awful in this day and age that a mother should be made to feel 'traumatised', in her own words, by a representative of the judicial system simply for the act of her trying to feed her child.
A spokesperson for the count and Judge Faircloth told WRAL that they had 'nothing to say' in regards to the allegations. Bell is also due back in court on May 20th, and its natural to assume that she will be feeling ill-at-ease about being back where the experience took place.
It's terrible that we are still having to read stories about women being stigmatised against for the simple act of breastfeeding, especially in a case like this where Bell's baby won't drink from a bottle.
What do people expect from this situation? For mother's to be constantly going miles out of their way with their hungry baby to find a secluded area to feed their child, all while they have their own lives to lead as well? It's freakin' ridiculous.