August 7 2012
Lukas: Why New York Women Should Tell Mayor Bloomberg to Butt Out of the Nursery
IWF’s Carrie Lukas has a great piece in today’s Wall Street Journal on Mayor Bloomberg’s latest intrusion into the private lives of New York citizens.
In “The Nanny State Comes to the Nursery,” Carrie writes about the mayor’s attempt to control what new mothers feed their children by getting hospitals to sequester baby formula. This comes on the heels of Bloomberg’s ban on sugary soft drinks of more than 16 ounces.
What is so bad about Bloomberg’s latest has nothing whatsoever to do with whether it is better to breast feed children. Indeed, Carrie makes a “what-should-be-unnecessary disclaimer” that she has four breast-fed offspring. What is wrong is that interfering with how mothers feed their children is not something government should be doing.
New York City women—known for their independence and outspokenness—should reject Mayor Bloomberg's intrusion into this profoundly personal decision. All Americans should take heed of what's happening in New York, where government bureaucrats who respect few limits on their power to run our lives are creating a counterproductive culture of alarmism when it comes to parenting.
It is patently absurd for Mayor Bloomberg to assume that he knows what’s breast for women (sorry). How can he know if a mother is having physical problems that prevent her from being able to breast feed a newborn? Should the mayor be making women feel guilty if they find they must resort to baby formula?
As is often the case with government overreach, there are bad practical ramifications:
Mayor Bloomberg may also be overlooking how the policies he pushes—having hospitals sequester formula, track the reason for the use of each bottle, and lecture women who request it—will work in practice.
Women exhausted from long labors and struggling to recover physically may benefit from a formula-feeding that provides them with much-needed respites. Those better-rested moms may then be more successful with breast-feeding attempts.
Restricting access to formula also sends a message that breast-feeding and formula are binary choices. Today, many women combine breast-feeding with formula use, allowing babies to enjoy the benefits of breast milk. Yet women turned off from physically grueling, every-other-hour feeding schedules in the hospital may give up and turn entirely to formula when they return home.
Should anybody really be having to explain to an elected official that breast-feeding and formula are not binary choices?