LAWTON, OK (KSWO) – A Lawton woman claiming she was asked to leave the mall for breastfeeding is staging a nurse-in, an event where moms can come together to breastfeed their children as a group to show support for each other.
She's planning it for Friday at Central Mall after she claims a guard told her to leave for breastfeeding in public.
The mother, Jacquelyn Daugherty said the incident happened back in November when she and her then 9-month-old son were at the mall shopping for some new clothes. When her son got hungry she did what she always does: she found the nearest table, sat down and began feeding him. That's when she said she was approached by a security officer.
"He told me that it was indecent exposure and that I needed to go to my car or the restroom," Daugherty said. "I handed him my Oklahoma breastfeeding law card and he said it doesn't matter because I'm on the mall's property and I need to leave. I didn't want to make a big deal out of it at the time, I just decided to pack up and leave and go home and nurse him."
Daugherty said she felt that her rights were being infringed upon and in Oklahoma, Michaelene Young with the La Leche League said those rights are pretty cut and dry.
"Any Oklahoma mother may breastfeed anywhere she is allowed to be," Young said. "If she is allowed to be at the library, if she is allowed to be at the mall, she may absolutely breastfeed her baby there. Anyone who is to try to stop her or remove her in a sense would be in violation of the laws protecting her and her baby."
Daugherty said she was just going to let the incident go until she continued to see the same thing happening to other moms.
"There are a lot of moms in America today that are constantly being put down just for nursing their children," Daugherty said. "It shouldn't matter how you take care of your baby as long as you take care of them. It shouldn't be a thing where people just stare and criticize and say bad things because all your doing is being a mom."
Daugherty said she isn't just going to stop by calling out those responsible at the mall. She's planned a Nurse-in for this Friday that she hopes will help get the point across.
"We're going to meet up and we're all going to nurse our babies together so none of us feel like we're being singled out," Dougherty said. "We're all together, we're all going to be confident in this. We're going to let it be known we're OK with this and it's OK to do this and we legally can."
7NEWS reached out to Lawton Central Mall for a response to Daugherty's claims. They released a statement, saying "At Central Mall Lawton, we are committed to providing our customers and employees with an enjoyable shopping environment. As part of this commitment, we provide many offerings designed for families including family bathrooms, nursing areas, and play areas. We also have a private nursing area in our ladies' restroom. As a family-friendly destination, we do allow women to breastfeed in the center."
Officials with Lawton Central Mall clarified that the "center" refers to the entire common area of the mall.
The nurse-in will be this Friday from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. Any breastfeeding moms or just people who support breastfeeding and want to send a message are invited to come out and peacefully protest. They will be meeting outside of Dillard's. You can find more information on the nurse-in here.