Moms organized a nurse-in at an Idaho Wal-Mart after one woman was kicked out of the store for breastfeeding.
Ashley McCall said she was shopping at the Twin Falls Wal-Mart when her infant son Cillian started “screaming.”
“I sat down on a bench, in a fairly secluded area, and started trying to nurse him,” McCall writes on Facebook. “After about five minutes a clerk came up to me and asked me to leave. I asked if I could take him to the bench in the bathroom and was told that it would be better if I just took him home.”
Idaho is the only state in the U.S. without laws that allow breastfeeding moms to nurse in public. However, Wal-Mart’s policy permits breastfeeding in stores. A spokesperson for the company told PEOPLE that the Twin Falls store was unable to identify which staff member told McCall to leave, but that the store manager has since apologized to the mom.
“We welcome nursing mothers to breastfeed their child in our store,” the spokesperson told PEOPLE. “We apologized to the customer for her experience and appreciate this matter being brought to our attention.”
McCall instead fed Cillian in her car, where “neither of us was comfortable,” she said. When she got home, McCall went on Facebook and organized a nurse-in with other moms in the area for Dec. 16.
“Babies should be able to nurse whenever they’re hungry, wherever they’re hungry, and however they and their mom are most comfortable,” McCall tells PEOPLE. “Nursing parents in Idaho need laws that protect them. So they can’t be kicked out, or asked to cover up, or anything else. That’s what I’m fighting for. That’s my end game. That’s what’s important. Not a bunch of people online telling me to cover up. Babies need to eat. Plain and simple.”
RELATED VIDEO: Breastfeeding Mom Defends Her Right to Publicly Nurse at Disneyland: ‘Boobs Are Not Sexual!’
McCall and ten other supporters showed up at the Wal-Mart that day, and sat in one of the aisle while nursing and chatting to protest the lack of support for breastfeeding mothers.
Two of the mothers who helped to organize the protest questioned the controversy over breastfeeding uncovered.
“I feel like if we don’t eat our food in a bathroom or under a blanket why should our children?” Jordan Fry says to PEOPLE.
“Modestly does come in different forms, but when it comes to nursing a baby the only thing that should matter is the comfort of baby and mama,” Sarah Ahrens adds to PEOPLE. “Nursing is hard enough without worrying about other people’s expectations of modesty.”
But one woman shopping at the Wal-Mart took offense to their protest, saying that they need to cover up to protect other children in the store.
“Most people are discrete, there are other parents who don’t believe in that, who are real Christians,” the woman said, captured in a video by Ahrens.
“People who don’t believe in feeding babies?” McCall asked the woman.
“Okay well I’m Christian, and if I brought my grandson in here…” the woman replied.
“Then he’s the one who’s innocent, and you’re the one who’s teaching him that it’s not okay,” Ahrens said. “When children see a baby, they say, ‘Oh, babies!’ It’s not ingrained in their minds to say, ‘Oh, boobies!’ Kids are taught — it’s learned behavior.”
McCall says that people who jump to criticize her or any other nursing mom need to take a step back.
“You have no idea what kind of position another person might be in,” McCall tells PEOPLE. “As someone in the comments of the video said, ‘maybe it was laundry day and she didn’t have a $30 nursing bra to wear that day”. For whatever reason, you’re going to see things like this. Whether the person is just really comfortable with themselves, or their baby doesn’t nurse with a cover, or pulls their shirt down, or they have to be able to see what they’re doing, or they’re too broke for better clothes; everyone is fighting a battle that you know nothing about.”
“Rather than shaming each other when we don’t agree, or don’t understand, we need to help each other out. I’m tired of seeing moms bashing each other. I’m ready for some mommy empowerment.”