An Oklahoma mother claims her apartment manager threatened her with eviction following complaints from neighbors about her breastfeeding on her own porch.
Missy Smith was told by the manager that if there was another complaint, he would issue an eviction notice, even though mothers are legally entitled to breastfeed in public under state law.
To make things worse, Smith spoke to a police officer who allegedly told her that if the baby was unwilling to be nursed under a cover, Smith would have to breastfeed inside.
“It makes me angry,” Smith said to Yahoo. “I am angry with the woman I spoke to at the police station who told me I would have to cover or stay inside, and I am angry at the neighbors who think it’s OK to stare — and then constantly complain.”
After Smith showed the landlord the Oklahoma law granting her the right to breastfeed, he withdrew the eviction threat.
“The law protects me,” Smith said. “Also, just because you are not comfortable doesn’t make breastfeeding wrong.”
A lack of awareness about the legality of public breastfeeding is a problem in other states too.
In a similar incident earlier this month, a restaurant manager asked a Chicago woman to leave a restaurant after another diner complained about the mother breastfeeding her 6-month-old infant.
"She said, ‘I’m sorry, I really need you to cover up if you’re going to nurse. One of our patrons is complaining,’” Kristal Tomko told CBS Chicago. “I was stunned.”
John Mathias, the restaurant’s owner, then tried to persuade Tomko to use a private room, which she refused to do.
Breastfeeding in public was legalized in Illinois in 2004.
“Just because you personally may not be comfortable with somebody doing something doesn’t mean you can dictate how they behave,” breastfeeding advocate Sara Castongia said. “She was well within her legal rights.”
After realizing that Tomko had the law on her side, the owner of the restaurant was apologetic.
“I am sorry,” Mathias said. “If they come in again, I’ll never say a word. They can do whatever they want.”