A formula for getting women mad
By Eniko Jordan
First it was banning smoking in public parks and limiting the use of trans-fats and salts in restaurants. Then it was soda pop. Now it’s baby formula. Super-nanny New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is targeting new mothers for behavior modification, New York style. And it’s a formula for getting women mad.
Now he doesn’t want new mothers to give their babies baby formula. Along with New York City’s Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, he is encouraging New York hospitals to keep their supplies of baby formula under lock and key. Under the city’s aptly, but uncouthly, named “Latch On NYC” campaign, 27 out of 40 NYC hospitals have agreed to latch on to the program that severely limits a new mother’s accessibility to baby formula.
While not mandatory for private hospitals, under the program baby formula in public hospitals will be hidden under lock and key, lest new mothers see it and then want it. No formula-related freebies or literature will be allowed to be included in hospital gift bags, and the display of and distribution of any formula-related promotional materials in any hospital location will also be prohibited.
New mothers will be encouraged and taught how to breastfeed their babies, which is not a bad thing in itself. But if a new mom asks for a bottle for her baby, she will get a lecture instead. And if she still demands the bottle, the hospital will have to document on the baby’s medical chart a medical reason for allowing a bottle of baby formula to be dispensed. Hospitals will also have to track the distribution of baby formula, and share that data with the New York Health Department. So if a baby get s a bottle of formula, the Health Department gets to know about it. Why?
Now, please don’t misunderstand me about this. I don’t have a problem with encouraging new moms to breastfeed. Absolutely, breastfeeding is best for the baby, providing the infant with several advantages. I get all that. I have no disagreement there, and I don’t mind breastfeeding in public spaces, with a little bit of modesty kept in mind. It is a healthy and natural choice.
But it is a choice, and it’s a choice for the mother, not a choice for Mayor Bloomberg or any other city health officials to make. And some women don’t really have a choice about whether or not they can breastfeed.
So I don’t have a problem with encouraging breastfeeding. But I do have a problem with going about it this way, and I can’t figure out why more New Yorkers don’t have a problem with it. It’s incredible to me that people with the rough-and-tumble reputation of New Yorkers just seem to lie down and take it whenever Bloomberg comes up with another bright idea to control their personal choices.
As far as I am concerned Mayor Bloomberg and the New York City Health Department have insulted every new mother that sets foot in NYC delivery ward. He is treating them as if they are too dumb to make their own choices. What, are they too hormonally disturbed to think for themselves, or to choose what they want to do with their own bodies? Wait, I thought it was all about a woman’s right to choose.
All this reminds me of one particular aspect of our 11-year overseas sojourn in the former iron-curtain country of Hungary. While our kids were attending school there, we were glad to find that children were encouraged to eschew wastefulness and to conserve supplies.
However, for decades children were also taught that when using the facilities, three squares of toilet paper was the acceptable amount to use for that purpose. Three squares, and no more. Three squares ought to be enough for anybody. And we’re not talking about the ultra-soft, pillow-topped, quilted variety of toilet paper here; more like a cross between newsprint and crepe paper.
The upshot of this is that whenever one used the restroom in a public facility, there was a restroom attendant in there who monitored the supply of toilet paper, which was kept under lock and key. The attendant would give you some T.P. after you paid your restroom fee, and you guessed it, she would give you three squares. Three squares is what’s good for you, it’s enough, and that’s all you get.
But shh! Don’t tell Mayor Bloomberg! He’s already looking for ways to intrude on people’s personal habits and choices, just because he thinks that’s what good for you, that’s enough, and that’s all you get.
According to a CBS report, Bloomberg said he is looking for more ways to make people healthier. When a reporter asked Mayor Bloomberg what could be next on his agenda, Bloomberg was quoted as saying, “Anything that we can think of that will improve your health.”
Wow, that’s a pretty open agenda. Apparently Bloomberg and the NYC Health Department think that it is their business to stick their noses into everyone else’s. Every woman in NYC ought to be up-in-arms about this, but where are the feminists and the pro-choicers on this attempt for government to control their bodies? Since when did the nanny-state become ok for so-called feminism?
“Anything we can think of,” says Bloomberg. And apparently he’s looking for things to think of. Watch out, New York! What will he think of next?
Award-winning columnist Eniko Jordan is a Pocatello resident and freelance writer for the Idaho State Journal.