Despite receiving negative results on HIV and hepatitis tests, an Australian woman has been banned from breastfeeding her 11-month-old child. Why? She recently got a tattoo.
ABC News reports that Federal Circuit Court Judge Matthew Myers issued an injunction to stop the mom from breastfeeding, claiming that the baby was at risk. The case went to court because of agitation from the child’s father – he and the mother were reportedly engaged in a “bitter parenting dispute.”
Dr. Karleen Gribble, a breastfeeding advocate from the University of Western Sydney, is disappointed in the ruling – and worries about the persistent policing of women’s bodies.
“I think if it were reasonable then we would have very, very many women in Australia who would be quite horrified and perhaps child protection authorities should be taking action because many mothers who are breastfeeding get tattoos – very often of their children’s names,” she told ABC News.
The ruling could set a dangerous precedent.
“I think unless there’s evidence that she has contracted an infection as a result of that tattoo, then it is unreasonable,” said Rebecca Naylor of the Australian Breastfeeding Association. “Tattooing in and of itself, as long as it’s done in a reputable way and that the infection control procedures are followed, the risk is low we would absolutely encourage women who have had tattoos to breastfeed their babies for as long as they choose to.”
A special “urgent appeal” against the ruling has been arranged in Sydney on Friday.