Lactivism in Washington, D.C.


February 9, 2011

Delicate museum-goers, avert your eyes now: A group of breastfeeding moms is planning a “nurse-in” at the Hirshorn Gallery this weekend to “highlight their right to breastfeed.” The idea was born when one local mom was told that she couldn’t breastfeed her baby in the gallery, and instead should nurse in the bathroom (only to learn later of the “Right to Breastfeed Act,” which protects public nursing wherever mom and baby are otherwise permitted):

Word spread via mothers’ Internet lists, lactation consultants, Facebook and the lively D.C. Urban Moms and Dads forum, where debates broke out: Is a nurse-in counterproductive? Is nursing in public acceptable in the first place? And, um, has anybody actually contacted the Hirshhorn?

The museum quickly apologized to Aita and posted a note on its Facebook page, saying it had made its “security staff aware of the federal law allowing women to breastfeed in any public or private location. . . . We regret that this incident occurred and we apologize for the frustration it has caused.”

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Still, the two-hour nurse-in will go on as planned, commencing at 10 a.m. Saturday, said organizer LJ Pelham, who has been thrilled with the Hirshhorn’s response to Lactation-gate.

“We’re not protesting against them; this is not to give them a black eye,” she said. “The fact that they apologized is wonderful. But the nurse-in wasn’t organized to elicit an apology. What happened to Nori happened because there was a lack of education and awareness. We want to ensure it doesn’t happen to anybody else again.”

One of the most hotly debated articles ever to appear on InsideCatholic has to be Kate Wicker’s “Why I Nurse at the Mall… and at Mass.” As the comments raged on, it became clear that this is one subject we’re still very much divided on. What do people think about the idea of a nurse-in? Is there ever a time or place when public breastfeeding isn’t appropriate?


  • Margaret Cabaniss

    Margaret Cabaniss is the former managing editor of Crisis Magazine. She joined Crisis in 2002 after graduating from the University of the South with a degree in English Literature and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She now blogs at

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