A Van Buren County woman wants a local judge reprimanded after he questioned the appropriateness of her breastfeeding in court on Tuesday.
"Sitting all the way in the back, I decided I was just going to breastfeed him," Natalie Hegedus said of her infant son. "Sitting there, he latched on. Everything's discreet, my shirt covered everything."
A court bailiff noticed what she was doing and wrote a note to the judge about it.
When Judge Robert T. Hentchel called her up, he asked her if she thought it was appropriate to breastfeed in court.
"I said, 'Considering the fact that my son is hungry, and he's sick, and the fact that it's not illegal, I don't find it inappropriate,'" she said. "And the judge said something to the effect of 'It's my court, it's my decision and I do find it inappropriate.'"
The short exchange left Hegedus humiliated, she said. It brought her to tears.
The chief judge told 24 Hour News 8 the incident was not a big deal. He admitted that it is difficult dealing with potential lawbreakers when they have children in court with them.
"I'm not defending this judge, I just don't think it is a story," Chief Judge Paul Hamre said. "This is abuse of the information age. A one-to-two sentence exchange has now turned into a national story."
Hegedus told 24 Hour news 8 there were 20 to 30 people in the room; Hamre said there two to three.
"I breastfeed willingly, wherever and whenever I need to," she said. "The fact that a judge and his court clerk thought it was so dirty they needed to reprimand me, in a sense, for doing it in their courtroom was unbelievable to me and inappropriate."
Judge Hamre told 24 Hour News 8 he would provide a copy of the transcript in order to show how small of a deal the incident really was.
A nurse-in is planned to take place at the courthouse Monday, November 28th from 1:30-4:40pm.
Write to the Paw Paw Chief Judge at:
Chief Judge Paul E. Hamre
Van Buren County Court
219 East Paw Paw Street
Paw Paw, MI 49079