Skip to main content
Take Action!
Tina Sherman's picture

Stunned. Outraged. That’s how I felt yesterday when I saw the news that Councilwoman Catherine Emmanuelle in Eau Claire, Wisconsin was illegally barred from breastfeeding her baby at the council dais during council meetings--because the council president decided that breastfeeding didn’t meet “our standards of decorum” for meetings.

I’m sorry, what?!?! You know what doesn’t meet OUR standards of decorum? Violating the legally protected rights of breastfeeding mothers who are just trying to do their jobs - in this case representing their constituents - while also caring for their baby.

→ Click here to add your name to our letter to the Eau Claire City Council in Wisconsin letting them know that they’re breaking Wisconsin law that protects breastfeeding in public and that their illegal action doesn’t meet our standards of decorum.

We have to act quickly to deliver our message, because to add insult to injury, the Council has decided that they’ll put Councilwoman Emmanuelle’s legal right to breastfeed her child in public up for a vote on Tuesday via a resolution that would grant Councilwoman Emmanuelle an exception to the “decorum” policies.

Let’s be really clear. Councilwoman Emmanuelle DOES NOT NEED AN “EXCEPTION” because it is already her legal right to breastfeed in public. Putting this matter to a vote is just strange and furthers outdated (and illegal) notions that mothers need to ask permission to breastfeed.

Instead, the Eau Claire Council needs to table this ridiculous vote and work towards finding solutions that make public service more accessible to all working parents, including reducing barriers for breastfeeding moms, and get back to the business of working for the residents of Eau Claire. Add your name to our letter now!

We have a plan: We’ll work with MomsRising members on the ground in Eau Claire to get your petition signatures delivered ASAP ahead of the Tuesdayvote, but you need to sign now so we can meet our deadline!

Here’s the scoop - For months, Councilwoman Emmanuelle has been denied the opportunity to sit at the dais (her legislative work space) with her son while at work and instead has been relegated to sit behind the city clerk’s desk hindering her ability to represent her community by fully participating in council business. In denying the Councilwoman’s request to breastfeed, the Council President has stated that, “I [do] have a responsibility as the chair to maintain meeting decorum and I relied on past practice of how meetings have been run over the last 100 years.”[3]

“We did it this way 100 years ago” is a pathetic excuse. A LOT has changed over the last 100 years including Wisconsin state law which states that:

“A mother may breastfeed her child in any public or private location where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be. In such a location, no person may prohibit a mother from breastfeeding her child, direct a mother to move to a different location to breastfeed her child, direct a mother to cover her child or breast while breastfeeding, or otherwise restrict a mother from breastfeeding her child as provided in this section.” [4] - Wisconsin Law

The Council’s outdated and discriminatory policy clearly violates Wisconsin law, and does not meet the needs of working mothers, their babies, and the citizens of Eau Claire. Rather than vote on a resolution that would grant Councilwoman Emmanuelle an exception to breastfeed at her council desk on the dias, the Eau Claire Council should seek to make public service more accessible to working parents, reduce barriers to breastfeeding for moms and get back to work representing the residents of Eau Claire.

The nation’s eyes are on Eau Claire and waiting to see if they stand with working mothers or attempt to push through antiquated policies.

----->> Sign the petition NOW urging the Eau Claire City Council to drop the resolution and let Councilwoman Emmanuelle get back representing the citizens of Eau Claire!

Together we are powerful voices for moms across the country!

[1] Wisconsin State Statute 253.165 Right to breastfeed

[2] Breastfeeding dispute on Docket, Leader-Telegram
[3] Council member says she has right to breastfeed at meetings, retains civil rights lawyer to challenge chair
[4] Wisconsin State Statute 253.165 Right to breastfeed

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of strongly encourages our readers to post comments in response to blog posts. We value diversity of opinions and perspectives. Our goals for this space are to be educational, thought-provoking, and respectful. So we actively moderate comments and we reserve the right to edit or remove comments that undermine these goals. Thanks!