A woman is facing child endangerment charges for trying to breastfeed her daughter while driving from Detroit to Pittsburgh.
Catherine Donkers, 29, was apparently spotted by a truck driver while nursing her 7-month-old on the Ohio Turnpike. The driver became alarmed and called the state Highway Patrol.
Officers tried to pull Donkers over, but they say she wouldn't stop until she got to a toll booth in Portage County. She offered an affidavit as identification and was cited for not having a license, police say.
"It's not like I'm trying to change a diaper while I'm driving, she pretty much just lays there on the pillow in my lap," said Donkers. "I would certainly submit that talking on a cell phone causes far more distraction than nursing a child while she's just laying there."
Dueling State Laws
Donkers also claims she did nothing wrong because Michigan has an exemption to its child restraint law for nursing mothers. But police say they have to abide by Ohio laws because that's where the traffic stop occurred.
Donkers said she doesn't think her actions were excessively dangerous, and she believes she can follow the laws of her home state when driving on an interstate highway.
The woman said she fed her baby before leaving Detroit but the child became hungry again. Her husband, Brad Barnhill, said his wife usually stops to nurse, but was forced to nurse while driving due to a busy schedule.
"Most of the time when she runs back and forth between here and her mom's place or here and her home, she stops at the rest stop to nurse. But, that turns a five-hour trip into a seven-hour trip and she had things to do," he said.
Mother Has Car Seat
Donkers has a car seat for her baby and says she uses it often and thinks it's important to do so — just not when the baby needs to nurse.
"It's lawful for me to nurse my child while I'm driving, it's not like she's sitting on the floor mat and is unrestrained for a seven-hour drive. She's only out of that seat while I'm nursing her."
In addition to the endangering charge, Donkers is accused of child car seat violations. She and her husband say they plan to fight all charges and file a lawsuit.
WTAE-TV contributed to this report.