The Terrorist Act of Breastfeeding
Entry 1696 posted in: 1. General Mish Mash
In the last two years I only had to use the term imbecile of the week twice but what I read yesterday in the newspaper made me re-examine my pudeur to use that particular term. This week's Felix Atagong Imbecile of the Week Award goes to the the doctor of the ASZ hospital of Aalst (Belgium), who is of the opinion that breastfeeding is obscene and even called the police to prevent a mother from nourishing her baby. The story so far:
On Wednesday a woman, who had fractured her ankle ligaments, was brought to the emergency ward of the Aalst ASZ hospital. She waited, in the hallway, until a doctor would see her. Unfortunately the mother had her 3 months old baby with her, obviously the hospital would have preferred if she had let the boy behind in the trunk of the car, and the baby was hungry, and when I mean hungry, I mean hungry!
So she did the perfect natural thing of opening her shirt and (discretely) breastfeed the baby. Immediately a doctor and a few nurses came to her, claiming that - according to the house rules - it was forbidden to breastfeed babies in hospital, and wheeled her, out of sight, to a private room.
Normally the incident should have been closed, but not for this mother. Annoyed by the fact that a doctor prevented her to feed her baby in a waiting room she asked the nurses to show her the hospital statutes where it was actually written that breastfeeding was forbidden. They didn't.
She then wheeled over to the information desk and asked once again for the document. They said they couldn't. (Obviously, the hospital later admitted that such a rule doesn't exist.)
The mother went back to the public waiting hall and continued feeding her baby. A row started. Other patients and visitors defended the mother but according to the doctor in charge the only proper way to feed a baby was to tie it down in a bed and stick a needle through its veins. It all became rather tense. The hospital called the police.
The riot police arrived within minutes, which must have been about the record of the year. One never sees the police when somebody holds a gun to your brains, but when they are needed to arrest a breastfeeding mother they are as fast as superman.
Four heavily armed policemen entered the hospital. Four. But they didn't really know exactly how to react. I mean, it is simple to hit an immigrant into hospital, especially when it is four against one, but how do you hit an already injured mother, who is breastfeeding a baby, in hospital when she is already in hospital? Modern society can sometimes be very puzzling for our police force.
They thought for a bit.
This was a painstakingly long process.
Finally, one of the coppers, probably the one who could read and
write, switched over to Plan B, the one that never fails.
If you can't hit a suspect, intimidate him (in this case: her).
He stretched his body in all possible directions and loudly proclaimed that according to Belgian law breastfeeding in public was considered an obscene act and a disturbance of general order. The three other policemen had tears in their eyes and one even started to applaud. With exception of the doctor and the nurses, everybody in the waiting room loudly protested and booed.
But boy, did this cop regret afterwards what he has just said, because obviously he had picked the wrong woman to bully.
What I haven't mentioned up till now is that the woman in question was, is, the coordinating executive of MammaCafe, a Belgian - volunteer driven - breastfeeding organisation with 20 meeting places and subsidiaries all over Flanders. Probably there isn't one women in Flanders who knows more about breastfeeding than she does. She gave the cop a small exposé about the legal issues of breastfeeding in Belgium, proving that his bullying tactics had been based on a misinterpretation of the Belgian constitution.
And now something inexplicable happened, something that normally only happens when policemen are confronted with Kalashnikov armed thugs in the Brussels Kuregem area. The four policemen turned their back and went away without even filing a report. The incident as such never happened.
But also the mother in question had to leave the hospital as the doctor still refused to treat her, which is in contradiction with his Hippocratic Oath. Theoretically doctor (and hospital) could be sued for refusing to help a person in need, but chances seemed small as even the police refused to note it down.
Luckily, in the mean time, at least one visitor had contacted the ombudsman of the hospital to complain about the event and, as this is summertime, also the newspapers and private and national television got hold of the news. The hospital was obliged to officially apologise and issued a press declaration that excels in saying absolutely nothing of importance.
(The above article is entirely based upon facts, some situations have been enlarged for satirical purposes.)
My previous imbecile of the week awards:
2010 Holy Wars
2009 The Purloined Ladder
Facebook group (Dutch) with about 2800 members: Spoedarts Asz Aalst stuurt politie af op vrouw die borstvoeding geeft.
Update 1st of September 2010: The Facebook group ended with 4591 members and the official apology of the hospital has mysteriously disappeared from their website.