Michelle Obama’s Breastfeeding Initiative Draws Unwarranted Criticism

by , 02/22/11
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www.letsmove.gov

It’s clear that Republicans and Democrats disagree on many issues — but now up for debate is something as instinctual and natural as breastfeeding! Can’t we all, as members of the human race, simply agree about the health benefits of breast milk? Sadly, we can’t. This month, First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off a new campaign to promote breastfeeding, as part of the Let’s Move initiative; an initiative created to help reduce childhood obesity rates via exercise and nutrition promotion. Discussing the obesity problems facing Americans, and her plans for year two of Let’s Move, Michelle Obama told Politics Daily, “What we’re learning now is that early intervention is key. Kids who are breastfed longer have a lower tendency to be obese.” Other ideas Michelle Obama has suggested include:

  • Breastfeeding education specifically for women in predominately black communities, since according to Mrs. Obama (and statistics), “40% of  [black] babies never get breastfed at all.”
  • Pushing for more hospitals to be certified as “Baby Friendly” by Baby Friendly USA.
  • Educating all women about the benefits of early food choices for children, including breast milk.

It’s hard to argue with Mrs. Obama’s logic. We all know breastfeeding rocks. Unfortunately, several members of the GOP have figured out a way to attack this healthy plan to promote breastfeeding.

Since Michelle Obama announced her plans to promote breastfeeding, numerous Republicans and conservatives have declared publicly that breastfeeding shouldn’t be promoted or supported by the government. For example, on Laura Ingraham’s radio show last week, Rep. Michele Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican, told Laura that the First Lady’s breastfeeding promotion represents a “hard left” position in which “government is the answer to everything.” Bachmann also compared the breastfeeding campaign to “social engineering” and ranted about the new tax deductions for breast pumps. Unfortunately, for Bachmann, the IRS deduction is completely unrelated to the Let’s Move campaign.

Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin, says that the IRS tax break favors “breast-pumping working mothers” over “stay-at-home nursing moms” and says the government doesn’t need to promote breastfeeding, calling Michelle Obama’s breastfeeding promotion “junk science.” In a hilarious Fox News video, conservative Sandy Rios argues that employers should in no way be expected to provide space for breast milk pumping. (You and I may know that you can’t take Fox seriously — but many people do.) Of course Sarah Palin felt the need to jump on the Obama + breastfeeding bashing train too.

In the space of a week we’ve seen family planning and breastfeeding attacked in the political realm. Why is government debating two such benign and crucial issues? Who knows. What this does show Americans is which politicians and parties do and don’t support healthy mamas and babies — keep that in mind when it’s time to vote.

+ Let’s Move

+ Should Breastfeeding Be a Partisan Issue?

+ Obama Administration Actions to Support Women Who Choose to Breastfeed (pdf)

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One Response to “Michelle Obama’s Breastfeeding Initiative Draws Unwarranted Criticism”

  1. Rvaya says:

    Sad, this is just sad. People are dying, people are starving, and this is all the have to discuss. Shouldn’t this be an issue when there are no major wars going on?

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