Hundreds of nursing mothers, their children, and their spouses gathered, Saturday, on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Organizers called it the Great Nurse-In of 2012.
Anna White, of Silver Spring, Md., brought her one-year old child, River, to be nursed in public. "I totally support breast feeding," explained White. "And I think it's really important that women feel comfortable breast feeding in public. It's nature's way of feeding your baby, if you can."
Organizers and participants agree with the U.S. Surgeon General that breast feeding is generally healthier than formula feeding.
In 2012, most women who breasts feed their infants in public places do not expect to be harassed. And, frankly, we talked to more than 20 women in this crowd, and the majority said they never have been bothered by bystanders. But it does happen sometimes.
Jamie Smedstad moved to Virginia Beach from Hawaii only a few days ago, and says, this week, she was discreetly nursing on a bench in a Virginia Wal Mart: "And a few people just walked by, and [you could tell] they wanted to say something, and they just shook their heads. And they were just disgusted. And [they] turned their kids away, and walked past. And I never felt so uncomfortable."
It happened to Linsey Silver in a hospital waiting room in Baltimore. "A nun actually came up to me and told me I was being completely disrespectful, and that I should cover up or leave," recalled Silver, a resident of Capitol Hill. "A security guard came over -- to my defense -- and said, 'You cannot tell her to do that.' Which was good. But the nun stood there for another few minutes watching me to make sure that I wasn't doing anything 'wrong'."
Some among the demonstrators want legislation making it a crime to harass a nursing mother.
"I think they're over reacting," snorted Houston tourist Debra Schmidt, who encountered the demonstration while walking around the grounds of the Capitol. "I was a mother who breast fed," continued Schmidt, "and [I] didn't have any issue... Nobody bugged me [and] nobody gave me any aggravation, none."
So it goes in Washington, where it's hard to find unanimity on any issue.