LEE COUNTY, Ala.- Lindsey Van Haastert has a 14-month-old girl, who she breastfeeds. Van Haastert says there are times when she breastfeeds in public she is commended by people for doing it.
Van Haastert says she was asked to leave a courtroom in the Lee County Justice Center on Monday for breastfeeding. She says she was told her two kids were not allowed in court, but due the amount of children present, an exception was granted. She was told as long as the kids were quiet, they would be fine. Her daughter started to get fussy, so Van Haastert started feed her.
She says a female deputy came up to her saying she could not do that. Van Haastert alerted the woman of her rights, but the deputy said she was not allowed to do that in the court because there were men present. She was eventually asked to go to the bathroom to finish.
Van Haastert did not want to make a scene, so she got up and left the courtroom. She says two deputies outside asked what was going on, and she explained the situation. She was then again told she had to breastfeed in the bathroom. She asked if she could feed her daughter in the lobby. She was allowed to do so, but she says she was under close supervision.
She remembers exactly how it felt during the incident.
“Humiliating,” Van Haastert said. “All I am trying to do is keep my daughter quiet and keep her well-behaved in a courtroom. Here, my rights are being taken from me as a mother. All I am trying to do is give my daughter the simple, basic needs that she needs.”
Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones oversees the activity at the justice center. He told News 3 that the justice center has a policy of no children in court, unless there are special circumstances. He says there was never intent to ask her to leave because she was breastfeeding. They were strictly adhering to policy. He does apologize does apologize for any miscommunication and says it will not happen again. He also says that all personnel are familiar with laws relating to breastfeeding in public.
Van Haastert is planning to hold a nurse-in on Monday morning at the justice center at 8 a.m. central time. She is grateful to hear it was a misunderstanding and wants to make sure all are educated about breastfeeding and that it is normal.
“I don’t want other mothers to ever go through this, ever,” Van Haastert said. “Who knows how many women have walked in there and felt the same way I did, shamed for doing something that is just feeding your child?”