Thursday, November 10, 2011

Obviously He Needs a Refresher Course in the Law

See the judge in this picture?
Photo Credit: Scott Harmsen

That's the Honorable Robert T. Hentchel, 
and you'll never guess what he did today.

According 32 year old Michigan mom Natalie Hegedus, the district court judge openly admonished her for breastfeeding her 5-month-old baby in the courthouse. He asked her if she thought it was 'appropriate to feed him in court' even though Michigan's breastfeeding laws clearly state that public nudity laws do not apply to a woman breastfeeding a child. (Mich. Comp. Laws § 41.181, § 67.1aa and § 117.4i et seq. (1994))

The situation came to light when Hegedus posted about the exchange on a Babycenter message board {link} and now mom bloggers are picking up this story. {example}

Here's how the story goes:
Judge Hentchel asked her if she thought the courtroom was an appropriate place to breastfeed her son.
Given that she was waiting to be called, what was she supposed to do - leave?
When Hegedus stated that since breastfeeding in public is not illegal, she didn't feel it was inappropriate to breastfeed her hungry son.
He was sick with an ear ache or else he would have been at daycare like originally planned...
Judge Hentchel responded “My court, my law, and I feel it is.”

Words can't even describe how disappointed I am in this man - this enforcer of justice.

However if you CAN find the words and are interested in contacting the Honorable Robert T. Hentchel, 
Here's the website for the Van Buren County’s 7th District Court East:

If a JUDGE isn't going to stand up for the law, who is?
OH RIGHT, the pro-breastfeeding moms he just pissed off will.


  1. I live in Michigan and as a pro breastfeeding momma myself this story makes me extremely mad and sad that breastfeeding isn't respected even by a man that is supposed to fair and just to everyone. I feel happy that this mom stood up for herself and has the support of the pro breastfeeding moms.

  2. WOW!!! I can't believe that. When will America wake up & realize we don't produce milk for the Hell of it!? It is a natural thing-breastfeeding. Our breasts are for feeding our children. Is it her fault that the judge Sexualizes breasts. If she were bottle feeding, would that be appropriate to do in HIS courtroom!?

  3. disgusting. reminds me of that judge who dealt with child abuse, yet was abusing his own daughter... It's like they think because they reinforce the law, that they get to make their own laws as well... doesnt make sense! And we are supposed to trust these people to have unbiased judgments?

  4. Was she covered or openly BF?

  5. Wait, judges get to make up laws in the courtroom now? What a moron.

  6. It saddens me that people who have so much power use it for horrible things!!! She had every right to feed him! What an idiot!!

  7. I would sue for discrimination. THAT IS CRAZY!! She should have squeezed breast milk in his

  8. I'd like to know what these people find so inappropriate about breastfeeding. I bet if men were the ones breastfeeding, it wouldn't be a problem.

  9. It is inappropriate to breast feed in a courtroom. It is inappropriate to bring a baby in a courtroom- If she really tried, she could have found someone to take care of her baby even with an ear infection. You don't just whip it out in a courtroo, just like you don't eat lunch in a courtroom. It is a formal place. You leave your child at home, show up on time, dress up, and pay attention. Breast feeding, diaper changing, knitting, reading a book- whatever- not the place. Breast feed your child. that is fine but do it somewhere appropriate and if the timing is not right, the baby will not starve to death if he has to wait to eat. Get a pacifier.

  10. One: obviously, either you do not have children, or you have been very lucky to always have a back up babysitter. not everyone has that!!! Two: she wont starve to death, you're right, but that child WOULD make a whole lot of noise it she's hungry... I assume the judge would find that much more of a distraction than just letting her feed her child!!!

  11. oh, and somewhere appropriate??? where exactly would that be??? I see too many women feeding their babies while sitting on a public toilet... is that appropriate enough for you???? WHAT A Disgrace!!!

  12. While I agree a courtroom is not necessarily an appropriate venue for a child, it is her right to feed her child whenever and wherever she has the legal right to be. I think I remember reading somewhere that the judge hadn't even noticed, the bailiff had to point it out to him. He had complained that this was being made into such a big deal, and that he would release the court transcript so that everyone could see that it was not the grand altercation that she made it out to be, and that things get blown out of proportion because of the ability of things like this to be posted on the internet, and go viral. I think that if he really appreciated the fact that things have the ability to go viral and that what he was saying was in fact, breaking the law, then he would have taken more care and just allowed the mom to feed her child. Instead, he took it upon himself to make something out of nothing, and he deserves everything that comes his way.

  13. I have started a petition because of this incident to create a breastfeeding-friendly policy in Michigan courts. I would be incredibly grateful if you would sign and promote it!

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