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Advocates expected to rally for breastfeeding mom held in contempt of court

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A mom is going to court in Jackson County on Thursday, held in contempt of court because she told a judge she can’t serve jury duty.

Why?

Because she told the court-she's breastfeeding.

Laura Trickle`s court hearing is on Thursday morning. Shortly after that hearing - around 11am -- several dozen people are expected to protest here at the courthouse. Their goal is to raise awareness about a change in the law that they say needs to happen to protect breastfeeding moms.

Doctors advocate for it, studies show it`s important. But advocate Rachel Daniels said there`s still a lot of misconceptions about breast feeding.

“There`s a lot of myths like, ‘Why can`t you just go pump? Why can`t you leave your baby?’,”  Daniels said. “It`s not so cut and dry. Babies won`t necessarily take a bottle if that`s not what they`re used to.”

That`s why Daniels is pushing for a change in Missouri law - to allow breast feeding moms to be exempt from jury duty for two years.

“One of the troubles people run into is they get a delay, but then they get something a few months later. For instance, I just spoke to a woman, she got a summons the month before she was due and now she`s up again in a couple months and she`s very stressed about it,” Daniels said.

That`s similar to Trickle’s case. She used her first postponement when she was pregnant back in January and gave birth in March. In August she got another summons and she was told she had to appear in court. So she showed up with her son and the judge held her in contempt.

“I guess I shouldn`t be shocked anymore because there are a lot of ways that our community doesn`t support families in the best ways that could happen,” Daniels said.

The presiding Jackson County judge tells FOX 4 that he is bound by the law, and right now that law states jurors are only given one postponement for six months. Other postponements are only given in extreme emergencies.

He says:

'As much as we all value mothers who choose to breastfeed their children, the Missouri legislature has chosen not to allow an exemption under these circumstances. As a judge, I am obligated to follow the law.'

Daniels said that`s exactly why lawmakers need to change the law

“But we need to make this law specific so there`s no question for judges or anything in between. This is a very clear law, there`s a reason 12 other states have specific laws for breast feeding moms and jury duty,” Daniels said.

Trickle did tell FOX 4 that she would speak to us this week, but as of Wednesday, she still hasn't responded to our requests and has a sign on her door asking media not to disturb the family. Across the state line, Kansas is actually one of the states that has the breast feeding exemption law on the books.

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4 comments

  • Dejah Danger Thoris

    What a disgusting judge. Will the court buy her a pump? Will they provide child care? Will they deal with a child that won’t take a bottle and is now crying desperately for a mother that has to do jury duty? There aren’t a mess of NON-breastfeeding women that could take her place? Oh, wait. That would be LOGIC.

  • Michelle

    Same thing happened to me in 1999 when I was pregnant. I livd in St. Joseph, MO and they sent me a summons for the day I was due with my son. I turned my form in asking to not serve and explained my due date was on that day. They sent me papers to serve anyways. I had to call a number and ask fo a delay in serving on the jury. They finally accepted, but sen me a summons a month later. My son was only 4 weeks old and I had to go in for jury duty or be in contempt of court. So I went and left my son with my mom. I couldn’t even go back to work yet because o doctors orders, but the court didn’t even care. They said it didn’t apply there.