Just when you thought you’d heard every viral news story about breastfeeding
ever, along comes another one to shock you all over again.
An Australian mother was banned from breastfeeding by a judge after she had a tattoo.
Ridiculous we know, but actually it seems there is a little more to it than that…
The mother, known as Ms Jackson, is currently fighting a custody battle in the Australian courts against the child’s father. She ordered to stop breastfeeding her 11-month-old son on 5 June 2015, when the judge deemed that there was an unnacceptable risk of harm to the child, after the mum could have contracted HIV or hepatitis when undergoing a tattoo.
In May, Ms Jackson had been tattooed at a reputable tattoo parlour on her hand and foot, and although she had provided negative test results for both HIV and hepatitis, judge Matthew Myers ruled that the tests were not conclusive.
He proceeded to grant an injunction preventing the mum from breastfeeding her child saying: ‘Don’t breastfeed any more. Seriously don’t. It’s not in the best interest of the child.’
It seems the dispute arose after the father flagged the new tattoo during the custody trial. Although it’s been said that the judge actually wanted to prevent the mother breastfeeding because she had been diagnosed with postnatal depression and wasn’t taking the medication. Not being able to use that as a reason, he went looking for something else.
The decision, which has since been overturned in an appeal heard on Friday 19 June, was described as ‘extraordinary’, by barrister Claire Cantrall during the hearing. ‘[Myer] ought to have taken into account the inherent unlikelihood of the mother contracting HIV. The issue of risk does not go over a mere possibility. It is an extraordinary injunction.’
She also added that he failed to properly consider the consequences of depriving the child of the mother’s capacity to breastfeed.
Judge Murray Aldridge who overturned the injunction said (and rightly so, we think): ‘Judges must not mistake their own views for being either facts not reasonably open to question or as appropriately qualified expert evidence.’