Women show nursing support at airport protest

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(Host) Dozens of women, many of them nursing their babies turned out at the Burlington International Airport today as part of what organizers called a “national nurse-in.”

The protest grew out of an incident last month involving Emily Gillette of Santa Fe New Mexico. Gillette was on a Freedom Airlines flight that was about to depart from Burlington. She was removed from the flight for refusing to cover up while breast-feeding her baby.

Gillette was in a window seat next to her husband in the next-to-last row, when the incident occurred at about ten PM. The flight had been delayed in Burlington for three hours.

A flight attendant told Gillette she was offended by the breast-feeding and ordered her off the aircraft.

That action led to a nurse-in at the Burlington airport last week, and a second one today in 19 cities around the country, including Burlington. Dawn Bryant of Montpelier was at the nurse-in this morning. She has a four month-old daughter.

(Bryant) “I feel very connected to this, and I’m really upset. I was personally offended by what I’d read about what happened, and really felt like I needed to do something just to make a point, increasing awareness in any way possible about the benefits of nursing.”

(Host) Also among the women and young children at the Burlington airport this morning was Cassandra Brush of Woodbury.

(Brush) “This is an issue dear to my heart because I’m breastfeeding my third child right now. I’m not particularly politically active but I just feel like it’s really sad and a shame that doing something so healthy and so good for children and so normal and natural should be treated like a perversion.”

(Host) Freedom Airlines, which operated the regional flight for Delta, said it disciplined the flight attendant and apologized to the Gillettes.

Emily Gillette has filed a complaint with the Vermont Human Rights Commission over the incident, because breast-feeding in a public place is protected under the law.

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