Courts need to be more accommodating for breastfeeding women in order for their voices and opinions to be included, not excluded, from the judicial process and the ongoing push for breastfeeding normalization needs to reach the courthouse. Mothers should be able to do their civic duty without compromising the health of their breastfeeding children. Further, breastfeeding mothers should be welcomed as part of a “jury of peers” for fair representation on civil and criminal matters. What if, instead of exemption, the court system were set up to truly allow women a jury of their peers?
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If a breastfeeding mother decides that serving on a jury is not in her best interest at this time, she is protected by law in the state of Michigan.
The law states, “a nursing mother may claim exemption from jury service for the period during which she is nursing her child and shall be exempt upon making the request if she provides a letter from a physician, a lactation consultant, or a certified nurse midwife verifying that she is a nursing mother.” Mothers who choose exemption from jury duty will have to act quickly before the deadline date on their jury summons. They will need to provide a letter from their healthcare provider proving that they are a breastfeeding mother.
View the full Michigan law by clicking here.
In support of the breastfeeding success of mothers summoned to jury duty, we advocate for the following:
- Jury duty summons should include specific information for breastfeeding jurors: the availability of milk expression time and location that does not include a bathroom; access to baby or child for breastfeed- ing during the trial; whether the court provides assistance in finding child care; and other logistical support for breastfeeding accommodations.
- Exemptions for breastfeeding mothers who are unable to serve should be upheld.
- Mandatory breastfeeding accommodation education for all court employees from clerks to judges.
- District, circuit, and federal courts should adopt official policies providing accommodations for breast- feeding and milk expression during jury duty for breastfeeding mothers.
To view the full policy position, download the position paper here.
To learn more about best practices, view the Systems Changer’s Guide here.
We need your help! Please share your stories and experiences related to your jury duty exemption or selection service experience.
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