Sarah Palin Slams Michelle Obama’s Breastfeeding Initiative
Palin and Obama bring the politics of nursing center stage. Photo: Veer
The breastfeeding debate went from from the playground and web to the political arena this week, as two of the biggest female forces in Washington—Michelle Obama and Sarah Palin—clashed over the issue. The showdown began on Thursday when, just in time for tax season, the IRS announced that families can now write off the costs of nursing (including breast pumps and supplies) as medical expenses. The tax amendment certainly isn’t the administration’s first move in support of breastfeeding (the administration signed a bill to provide low-income women with nursing support and supplies, and encouraged employers to provide breaks and private spaces for nursing moms), but it’s the first time the First Lady has pushed her support for breastfeeding.
While, Mrs. Obama has talked openly about her own experiences nursing before, she’s now promoting the health benefits of breastfeeding as part of her campaign against childhood obesity. Mrs. Obama wants to send the message that nursing is a powerful force for preventing childhood obesity early on (as babies who are breastfed longer are less likely to become obese). To that end, she’s working to encourage more mothers to nurse for longer. As is her usual way with any hot-button issue, Mrs. O is being extremely carefully in what she says, emphasizing that she wants to help increase the number of moms who nurse by making it easier for moms to breastfeed, but that she’s certainly not telling moms to breastfeed. Still, the message is clear: The White House is behind breastfeeding.
Former Alaska governor and fellow working mom, Sarah Palin, however, is not. Well, at least not behind the government getting involved in the matter. On Thursday, Palin blasted the First Lady’s breastfeeding initiative, saying: “No wonder Michelle Obama’s telling everybody, ‘You’d better breastfeed your baby.’ Yeah, you’d better, because the price of milk is so high right now.” What’s Palin’s beef with breastfeeding? Nothing directly—she just wants the government to mind it’s own business, particularly when it comes to breastfeeding. Palin is in favor of less government interference, especially in terms of how we choose to feed our children. Recall last year when she said that the First Lady’s obesity campaign was “infringing on American’s God-given rights” and fed her family s’mores in protest. (Real mature, huh?)
While the First Lady has yet to respond to Palin’s criticisms, we find it hard to knock any move, whether initiated by the government or anyone else, that makes it easier for moms to care for their kids.
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