Breast-Feeders Unite to Demand Their Rights

ByABC News
November 21, 2006, 12:55 PM

Nov. 22, 2006— -- Inspired by an incident at a Burlington, Vt., airport last month, protesters held "nurse-ins" at airports around the country today to call attention to a woman's right to breast-feed in public.

On Oct. 13, after waiting several hours for a delayed Freedom Airlines flight out of the Vermont International Airport, Emily Gillette says she was kicked off the plane for breast-feeding her 22-month-old daughter.

A flight attendant allegedly told the 27-year-old mother the she offended her. The attendant then offered Gillette a blanket and asked her to cover up.

When Gillette balked, a ticket officer boarded the plane and escorted Gillette, her husband, Brad, and their daughter, River, off the plane, Gillette says. Gillette tells ABC News that she was humiliated, and felt incredibly helpless, given the environment.

"There are so many TSA guidelines, restrictions. We step really carefully and we're much more aware of our behavior on airplanes," Gillette says.

As she was leaving the plane, Gillette reportedly asked the flight attendant, through tears, "Why are you doing this to me? I did nothing wrong."

Delta, the parent company of Freedom Airlines, apparently agrees.

In a statement, the airline says it "fully supports a mother's right to breast-feed her baby onboard our aircraft. And we regret the decision to remove the passenger from Flight 6160. This is absolutely not in keeping with our high standards of customer service."

Today, Gillette says she believes this statement contradicts the way the company has treated her since the incident occurred.

Gillette filed a complaint with the Vermont Human Rights Commission against Freedom Airlines and Delta. Her attorney, Elizabeth A. Boepple, tells ABC News that Gillette would like a personal apology, among other things.

"Emily's desire is to see written policies in place for these two companies providing for the rights of breast-feeding mothers, and part of these policies is ... training their employees," the lawyer says.