A judge in Sydney, Australia banned a woman from breastfeeding her 11-month-old baby because of a tattoo she got four weeks earlier.
The case was presented to the court by the baby's father, who is involved in a bitter parenting dispute with the woman.
Despite the mother's negative HIV and hepatitis test results, Judge Matthew Myers concluded there was still an unacceptable risk to the child, appalling many breastfeeding advocates.
In fact, Dr. Karleen Gribble, from the University of Western Sydney, stated,
I think if it were reasonable then we would have very, very many women in Australia who would be quite horrified and perhaps child protection authorities should be taking action because many mothers who are breastfeeding get tattoos — very often of their children's names.
I think when it comes to mothers and breastfeeding, we need to consider that mothers are people, they do things.
Rebecca Naylor, from the Australian Breastfeeding Association, also expressed concern over this potentially detrimental decision and asked,
Does that mean that women who expose themselves to any sort of risks around the contraction of a blood-borne virus... shouldn't be allowed to breastfeed?
Naylor, the chief executive officer, continued,
Tattooing in and of itself, as long as it's done in reputable way and that the infection control procedures are followed, the risk is low and so no, we would absolutely encourage women who have had tattoos to breastfeed their babies for as long as they choose to.
As a result of public concern, a full bench of the Family Court will hear an appeal against the ruling made by Judge Myers.