Missouri mother Laura Trickle is finding out first hand some of the unexpected ways that having a baby can complicate life.
Trickle was summoned for jury duty at a Jackson County, Missouri courthouse recently. But as a stay at home mother with a 7-month-old son, she can’t just call off work for jury duty. She told court officials ahead of time that she has an infant son that she needs to breastfeed throughout the day, but that didn’t get her out of duty. There are 11 states with laws on the books excusing breastfeeding mothers from jury duty, but Missouri isn’t one of them.
So Trickle showed up to duty with her child. Once there, a judge told her that her that she had two options: she could bring someone to watch her son at court and Trickle could breastfeed him during breaks, or she could hire a babysitter for the day and leave him at home.
“I would be able to pump on breaks. Unfortunately Axel doesn't take a bottle, so that was not an option for us. The other option was to have someone stay with me all day and then be able to nurse on breaks. But since I'm a stay-at-home mom, we don't have childcare,” Trickle said.
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Out of options, the judge took a drastic measure: he handed Trickle a contempt of court charge. If convicted of the charge, she could be fined up to $500.
“It is not right. It is not fair for us. We're just trying to do what is best for our children, and we shouldn't be penalized and fined for it," Trickle said. "It has been really scary. It has been very stressful for our family.”
Trickle has a court date this Thursday. She will make her case and try to convince the judge that the charge and subsequent fine are unreasonable given her situation.
In the meantime, a Missouri state senator is working on a bill that would excuse breastfeeding mothers from jury duty.