Sunday, February 25, 2007

Breastfeeding Mothers Stage 'Nurse-In' At Mall

WYOMISSING, Pa. -- Hundreds turned out Saturday at a Pennsylvania mall. They were not there to shop, but to support a mother ordered by security to stop breastfeeding in public at the Berkshire Mall in Wyomissing.

The crowd gathered to support Leigh Bellini, who was asked by mall security last Saturday to go to a bathroom or her car while she breastfed her 6-month-old son, Enzo.

On Saturday, dozens of mothers staged a "nurse-in." Nearly 50 women breast-fed their children in the mall's center court. The women said they should be able to feed their children wherever they want.

Bellini said in the past she's received stares and some rude looks, but never before had she gotten into a confrontation over breastfeeding.

"I thought it was the most natural thing in the world. I can't imagine that somebody would complain," said Bellini.

But someone did complain when Bellini fed her baby at the mall. Bellini said she stopped to feed her son after a day of shopping with her family. She said that she found a bench under a tree and put her stroller in front of her when security approached, and asked her to cover her son with a blanket.

"Nobody could see anything. There wasn't one (part) of my breast showing," said Bellini.

Her husband, Tony, said the situation got ugly when police suggested that she feed their son in a public restroom or the car, which they refused to do.

"They threatened to call the police on us, or have us physically removed by the police department," he said.

Tony Bellini said they even threatened to have the couple banned from the mall permanently.

The mall's manager said there is no policy banning breastfeeding at the Berkshire Mall, and that security should not have threatened to call police. She said the matter is being investigated.

Protestors said they fear that having no policy could cause more problems for nursing mothers.

Almost every state in the country has a law allowing women to breastfeed in public, but not Pennsylvania. Currently, there is legislation being introduced in Harrisburg, Pa., to protect the rights of women who want to publicly breastfeed.

Distributed by Internet Broadcasting.

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