Local news affiliate WRAL reports that new mom Danielle Bell of Clayton, N.C., appeared in a Johnston County courtroom last week for a case involving her traffic tickets. While she waited to be called, she sat in the back of the courtroom and nursed her 3-month-old daughter, Penelope, who was resting in a sling.
Though the law allows women to breastfeed their babies in public places, a deputy approached Bell and asked her to leave because children under age 12 are not permitted in the courtroom.
Bell passed the infant off to her husband, who waited in the hallway while she spoke to the judge. But she says District Court Judge Resson Faircloth scolded her for bringing her baby inside, and allegedly threatened to get CPS involved.
"If leave her home, she's unable to eat," Bell reportedly told Faircloth. "He then replied to me that was not his problem and that, if I had any other excuse, he was going to take her that day and have me put in contempt.”
That’s when Bell said she walked out of the courtroom crying. "I definitely have fear of going back to the courthouse. I am worried about the consequences that will happen," she said.
While Faircloth declined to comment on the incident, other judges told WRAL that they would have allowed Bell to bypass the under-12 ban in order to feed her baby.
"I felt discriminated against," said Bell, who must return to court on May 20. "This is the way she survives — by breastfeeding — because she refuses a bottle."
Bell is far from the first nursing mom to get a hard time for feeding her baby.
Earlier this month a New York City mom was served with a parking ticket while she breastfed her baby in the car. And in March, there was outcry after a court deputy in Oklahoma told a mom to nurse in the bathroom, not the hallway.
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