Court Says Tattooed Mom In Australia Can Breastfeed (Because Duh, That Was Ridiculous)
An Australian Family Court judge officially overturned the breastfeeding ban placed on a mother earlier this month, after he more or less found the whole thing ridiculous (as did a lot of other people). The original ruling was made by Judge Matthew Myers, who reportedly banned the unnamed mother from breastfeeding her 11-month-old after being recently tattooed. His reasoning? According to the BBC, Myers felt there was "still an unacceptable risk" of the child contracting AIDS/HIV through the mother's breastmilk, despite the fact that tests came back negative. But after an appeal brought the 20-year-old mother's case back to court again Friday, Justice Murray Aldridge ruled in her favor, saying the original ruling ignored the emotional impact this would have on the child.
The BBC reported that Judge Myers' ultimately made his ruling after referring to breastfeeding guidelines made by the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA). But Rebecca Naylor, a spokesperson for the ABA, said that his interpretation of their guidelines was mistaken, and that the association would support the mother in this case. As she told ABC Australia:
Tattooing, as long as it’s done in a reputable way and the infection control procedures are followed, the risk is low. We would absolutely encourage women who have had tattoos to breastfeed their babies for as long as they choose to.
So why the confusion? Sounds like Judge Myers was guilty of some bad Googling. The Telegraph reports that Justice Myers didn't officially consult the ABA when arriving at his decision, but instead came to it by "surfing the Internet," as Aldridge put it. (DEAR LORD.) In his overruling Friday, Justice Murray Aldridge lifted the ban and also took the time to warn other judges "not to mistake their own views for facts or expert evidence" in future cases.
I can't imagine how relieved that young mother is to have this whole thing over and done with. But I also know there are plenty of others who will be super happy to hear this news, too. After the original ruling went viral this week, it left many shaking their heads, and questioning how in the world it even made its way to court in the first place. (Short answer: the woman was apparently embroiled in a bitter custody dispute with the child's father, which was when he brought concerns about AIDS/HIV to the court's attention.)
As nuts as this whole case was, it actually wasn't the first time an Australian court banned a woman from breastfeeding. According to The Telegraph, that one happened back in 1999. But as Justice Aldridge mentioned in his ruling, the circumstances there were completely different. After the mother tested positive for HIV, she willingly agreed to wean her baby to prevent transmission and the case was settled quietly.