Missouri mother Laura Trickle says that she intends to fight a contempt charge brought by a judge after she brought her 7-month-old son, who she is currently breastfeeding, to jury duty. The charge carries with it up to $500 in fines and the possibility of arrest.
“I’ve never even had a speeding ticket,” said Trickle.
Jackson County court officials told Trickle that she could either arrange for child care or have someone come to the courthouse to watch her son, Axel, while she was part of the jury. She was told that she would also be afforded the opportunity to pump or breastfeed on her breaks. However, the stay-at-home mom says that her son does not drink milk from the bottle, and that she would be unable to find someone to take care of Axel during the day. Trickle insists that she would be willing to comply if her circumstances were different, but her son’s health is of paramount importance.
"The issue is the timing," she said. "I just can't do it right now."
So, when Trickle showed up to the courthouse with Axel in tow and no caretaker in site, she received a court order saying she “willfully and contemptuously appeared for jury service with her child and no one to care for the child.”
A majority of states — 39, according to ABC News — do not allow breastfeeding women to be exempt from jury duty. In Missouri, Sen. Robe Schaaf, who is also a doctor, is drafting legislation to change that.
"You can’t force a breastfeeding mother to part with a child who won’t take a bottle. If the county is so hell-bent on breastfeeding mothers showing up for jury duty, they should provide daycare so all women they refuse to exempt can serve," wrote blogger Maria Guido.