Breastfeeding Mom May Be In Trouble For Bringing Her Child To Jury Duty

shutterstock_151171298__1382277120_142.196.156.251A breastfeeding mom in Kansas City, Missouri may be facing some trouble with the law for showing up for jury service with her breastfeeding child. This makes my head spin, because I can sympathize with this mother not having anyone around to help her.

Laura Trickle had previously been issued a postponement for jury duty when she was eight months pregnant. She was sent another summons – this time she was breastfeeding. Unlike neighboring Kansas, Missouri does not allow breastfeeding moms to be exempt from jury duty. She was ordered to appear for jury duty and to arrange childcare for her child. She doesn’t have childcare options – her husband works all day and she’s home with her kid.

With no other options, she showed up for jury duty with her breastfeeding child, or as the court order she soon received put it, “willfully and contemptuously appeared for jury service with her child and no one to care for the child.”

Jackson county offers two options for breastfeeding mothers; they will supply a room for them to pump, or they expect mothers to bring a caregiver to watch the child during proceedings and will momentarily dismiss the moms to breastfeed in a private room. Her son doesn’t take a bottle, so leaving him behind was not an option for Trickle. She also has no one to help her. She brought her child because she had to.

I know a lot of people may find it hard to believe someone has no options for childcare, but I don’t think that is an uncommon problem. When I lived in New York, I had no family around and couldn’t afford childcare. I currently have a breastfeeding child that will not take a bottle – so I understand how frustrating that can be. You are tethered to your child when you are in that situation.

You can’t force a breastfeeding mother to part with a child who won’t take a bottle. If the county is so hell-bent on breastfeeding mothers showing up for jury duty, they should provide daycare so all women they refuse to exempt can serve.

(photo: whiteisthecolor/ Shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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    • Kaka

      Also too let’s say you stay at home with no help – do you really feel comfortable putting your child in day care for a few days. May be traumatic for the child as well as the parent.

      • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

        I agree. I don’t think you should be forced to make decisions like that when you’re not ready.

      • Andrea

        I just wouldn’t have shown up. I know it’s supposed to be mandatory, but good luck daddio. I have a hard time believing they would throw someone in jail for not appearing to jury duty.

      • Kaka

        Why not also pay all these unemployed people to do jury duty. I was annoyed when my husband had to use two days off to do it! I know it’s a civic duty but we are also expecting baby number two shortly. We could use those days!

      • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

        I got paid when I did it in New York. It was one day of jury duty and I believe the check was for $11. Ha!

      • Kaka

        I’m sure that eleven dollars went far. May have been able to get a sandwich. In nj they have a nicer cafeteria you can use free of charge. I guess at least they offer you that :)

      • Aldonza

        They may not throw them in jail, but they might put out a bench warrant. This happened to my husband after he had moved from one state to another and never received the summons. He had no idea there was a problem until he tried to get a new drivers licence and they wouldn’t let him.

    • K Jones

      Would it be too hard to defer this woman for a year (or two) so she can feed her child? She’s not trying to get out of her duty completely, the timing is just wrong.

    • Rachel

      So, basically, this woman was screwed no matter what she did?

      • elsiewebb542

        Experience is a poor teacher: So, don’t bother and make some
        handsome earning, go to this site… bay35.com

    • Shelly Lloyd

      It is things like this that just pisses me off even more.

    • Blueathena623

      I feel for this woman, so much. I am incredibly lucky that my husband has some flexibility in his job and we have family close by, but there have been a few times when everyone is busy and I’ve had to cancel or reschedule medical appointments. I don’t think people realize that you can’t just grab someone off the street for childcare, even if you do have the means to pay them. From the little I’ve looked, most people who advertise their childcare ability on childcare websites are looking more for a nanny position or at least regular hours, not “hi, you’ve never met me, but can you come to my house tomorrow?”

      • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

        Right? It’s ridiculous.

      • Andrea

        WHat I wanna know is who the fuck is downvoting all these posts in support of this poor woman!

      • Carinn Jade

        THIS. It’s so true.

    • Mikster

      They should excuse all women with kids under school-age. I never did strangers as babysitters, nor did I ever use daycare. Iwas a SAHM for a reason- no strange people ever watched my kids. Nor would I have ever permitted it. Luckily, I was excused twice for that reason.

    • Harriet Meadow

      I’m currently running into the it’s-actually-really-hard-to-find-daycare issue. Right now my husband and I have opposite work schedules, so one of us is always home with the baby (and I only teach one class, so I’m not gone for very long). But my husband is looking for another job, and he might end up on first shift. Which means I’ll have to find someone to watch the kiddo while I teach. We have no family around, can’t afford a regular daycare (nor would I want my baby gone for so long), the drop-in daycare in our city (yes, there’s only one) limits you to ten visits per month, and our roommate, who has graciously offered to babysit on multiple occasions, has class at the same time as I teach. I have a grad student friend who has said she could watch him maybe one day a week on campus, but other than that our options are pretty nil right now. I guess we could have a babysitter come to our house, but I don’t know whom to trust (plus it’s more expensive than I’d like). Who knew it would be this hard to find someone to watch your kid for a couple of hours a day? Oh, and I also breastfeed (he sometimes gets one bottle of formula if he gets hungry while I’m teaching, but usually we can time it so that that doesn’t happen) – so I’m pretty sure I would be in the same boat as this woman.

      • AP

        Since you say you’re only teaching one class, I’m assuming you’re teaching at the college level? A lot of schools have a student job board where you can post for a babysitter wanted. A lot of college-age kids babysit, teach swim lessons, camp counselor, etc., and if you do it through the school, you’re more likely to find someone reputable because you’re part of the same community.

        Also, you can ask around for students who don’t directly report to you- having your own grad student babysit for you might be a conflict of interest, but certainly someone else’s grad student might be willing to do so for a few extra bucks.

        Good luck!

      • Harriet Meadow

        Thanks for the suggestion! If it comes down to that, I’ll definitely take your advice! I do still feel bad for this woman, though…

      • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

        Finding someone for a couple hours a day is WAY harder than finding someone full time. I had the same problem when I lived in Brooklyn and had no family around.

      • Rachel Sea

        Used to be this was what 13 year olds were for. I was an as-needed babysitter for a LOT of families, some of whom used home-schooling adolescents, and teens as-needed during the day.

    • Personal

      Both of my Kids would have been hysterical if I’d left them with someone. I breastfeed, too, and neither have ever taken to bottles.
      This is horrible and this woman should be excused for at least 2-3 years.
      Am I the only one, though, who thinks her name is rather unfortunate given the circumstances?

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Eh, I probably would have shown up with the baby, too. When my first was little, we didn’t know anyone in the area, and I stayed at home while my husband worked. I remember trying to find someone to watch my baby so I could come see my new classroom (while the old teacher was still there) and meet my new coworkers. I knew NO ONE and it was impossible–and the daycare wasn’t ready for me until the next schoolyear. What ended up happening was the team of teachers wanted to be able to meet me badly enough that they volunteered to watch my baby for me. So a bunch of teachers I just met (they’re my best friends now) watched my infant in the teachers’ lounge while I observed the teacher and my new classroom. When I needed to nurse her, I did. It was my first time away from her and it was a bit scary, but she was just in the next room with a bunch of people with teaching licenses.

      I guess what I’m trying to say in this long story, was I’ve been this lady’s shoes.

    • Seidhr

      That’s insane. Even Texas, the great hater of women, allows jury duty exemptions for the primary caregivers of small children.

    • Unhappy Gilmore

      Once again I see that breastfeeding mombies should be except from any and all facets of life that interfere with FEEDING THEIR PRECIOUS BAAABBY. Shut the fuck up. Jesus Christ you people are nutjobs.

      • SlowCrunch

        What the hell?

      • Sara

        Ah-ha! So THAT’s who was down-voting everyone; I was curious about that.

      • Andrea

        I figured I would find him further down, Asshole.

      • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

        I was wondering what the hell I had said that was so very controversial I got downvoted. I mean, not liked or noticed, okay. But I said nothing controversial.

      • DatNanny

        Do you mean exempt? If you read the article, her child does not take a bottle. This means, even if she had some childcare available, it isn’t as simple as handing her some pumped milk or formula. No matter what, baby is screwed. No access to the breast = no food, no nutrition whatsoever for the entire period mom is away.

        In my state, jury duty exemptions can be made for anyone who is the full-time primary caregiver for a family member – baby, elderly parent, special needs person – with no other options. This mom had no other options, and it doesn’t come down to a breastfeeding debate. Doing our civic duty should not infringe upon the rights of citizens; I would include this tiny baby’s right to be cared for and fed as something to not be infringed upon, as I would for an elderly or special needs person’s need for their caregiver.

      • lin

        The baby won’t take a bottle. So…the baby should starve? Yes, the mother should be “FEEDING HER PRECIOUS BAAABBY”. I think expecting the child to go hungry and suffer the consequences, of you know, starving for who knows how many hours, for how many days and suffering the potentially dire consequences is insane. Don’t be so quick to jump on mothers for trying to keep their kids alive, fed, well. Babies are people too.

      • Andrea

        Why you don’t YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP you jerk!

      • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

        Believe it or not, when you don’t know a lot of people in your area who are just free to take off whenever they want in the middle of the day to babysit your kid, it can be rather difficult to get someone to watch the kid, especially a young baby. Especially a breast fed baby that’s going to cry the whole however long it takes because it’s hungry. If you don’t already have daycare because you work (and she didn’t), it’s not exactly easy. It’d be different if it was an evening or weekend when people are off. Teenage babysitters are in school; adults work. Would you like to take off work for 8 hours and not get paid to babysit this lady’s baby, who, by the way, will cry all day? Nevermind, she wouldn’t trust you with him anyway, because you don’t seem very patient. I think showing up with the baby might have been the best alternative. If they wanted her that bad, they can let him nurse in the jury box.

      • Ann B.

        I’m really confused about how this comment got so many upvotes.

      • lin

        All from guests – guessing the same guest, multiple email addresses?

      • Lindsey Sweet

        Not all guests……..(2) from member names.

      • Joye77

        I wondered that myself.

      • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

        The Internet is vast and full of assholes.

      • Simone

        Que?

    • Edify

      That’s just ridiculous. In my country, if you are the primary caregiver for any child you can seek and should have an exemption accepted. This includes if your kids are school age and you are required for after school pick up.

    • Simone

      So this is an example of structural sex-based discrimination. This woman’s body performs a function that a man’s does not – she lactates and produces the only food her dependent infant can currently consume. She is simply unable to make alternative arrangements based on circumstances she didn’t choose and can’t change – the functions of the body she was born into. When a society penalises a person for a body-based issue they can’t change, that is unequivocally discrimination.

      She did the right thing and the only thing she could do in the circumstances: she appeared at court as mandated, bringing with her her helpless infant. She didn’t disappear or say Fuck You or not bother, she showed up with her child as she had no alternative.

      Any human rights advocate would be able to make an excellent case that the courts are at fault in this situation. An exemption should have been made in response to an application through the proper channels.

    • Annona

      Yeah, that’s pretty absurd. What did they expect her to do? I could even maybe see their point if it was possible to bottle feed, but “only able to drink milk from the breast” ought to be pretty easy to understand. And now, if I understand correctly, they’re going to waste money and time charging her with contempt? So stupid.

    • Joye77

      I am amazed that she wasn’t exempt. Last year my husband was exempt in our state (Florida) simply as a primary caregiver for a small child. Obviously this woman would have qualified as that. Oh wow, Missouri, and I thought Florida was the most backward state in the US.

    • Brian Cooper

      Oh jeez, couldn’t they just go with an alternate?

    • Felix

      Yet another reason to love my recent move to kansas from mo. Even if she could pump, unless the caregiver has experience with pumped milk, there’s a lot of room for error which is dangerous. Breastmilk spoils faster, and can’t be reheated or given to the baby after a certain amount of time after a bottle has been eaten out of. It absolutely cannot go into the microwave. (Ik formula isn’t supposed to either for burn reasons, but it destroys the antibodies in human milk.) Exemptions are the reason they call at least 30-40 people, how hard would it have been for them to excuse her for special reasons or grant her a medical extension?

    • blh

      I got out of jury duty BC I have a child and I had to go to school So I think it’d ridiculous they didn’t let her out of it. But if your in a jury you need to be focusing on that not a baby, so its very reasonable to say you can’t bring children. That’s really common sense. It would be too distracting. Moms need to understand you can’t vrubg your kid everywhere.

    • mmw814

      I’m not sure what the judge was trying to accomplish here. I am a lawyer (and a breastfeeding mom) and I would not want this woman to serve on my jury. (Not because she isn’t qualified, but because it would be such a hardship on her and that would influence her decision making as well as her ability to pay attention to the presentation of evidence during trial). In fact, I have dismissed potential jurors for cause who have said that serving would present a hardship on their childcare arrangements. I’m impressed that she showed up with her baby in tow.

    • Jen

      Judge Roldan’s email is: Div16.cir16@courts.mo.gov. Contact him!

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