Hannah Rosin, the author of “The Case Against Breastfeeding,” a controversial article published in the Atlantic Monthly Magazine in April of 2009, has released an open letter on the one year anniversary of it’s publication, apologizing for the article and the harm it caused.
April Fools! Before you read on, please remember that in the spirit of April 1st, we are poking a little fun and that this article expresses the personal opinion of the authors, not of the Best for Babes Foundation or it’s Board of Directors. It was inspired by a hoax press release issued by Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP for April Fools Day last year, and discussed in the Huffington Post, stating that the American Academy of Pediatrics was severing it’s ties with the formula industry because it conflicted with their mission of advancing pediatric health. Our spoof below is in no way intended to be disrespectful to: Ms. Rosin, who is way funnier and more famous than us; the Atlantic Monthly, which clearly has far more influence on the masses than we do; and the Militant Breastfeeding Brigade, which scares us. Now, on with our April Fools fun:
In the letter, Hannah Rosin explains: ”It is true I cherry-picked the data to suit my purposes, and deliberately ignored the report from the AHRQ analyzing 9,000 studies and conclusively establishing that breastfeeding lowers the risk of a myriad of pediatric, maternal and lifelong illnesses. I am aware that countless expecting and new mothers decided not to breastfeed after reading this article, and I deeply regret that they acted on the misinformation I presented. As more research studies have surfaced this year, such as a the one finding that breastfeeding is associated with a 60% lower risk of breast cancer in women with a family history of the disease, I have decided to hang up my wannabe research journalist hat and leave making sense of the science to, well, scientists. I also apologize for the disservice I did to feminism and women’s rights in “The Case against Breastfeeding.” Regardless of the powerful and incontrovertible evidence about the benefits of breastfeeding, breastfeeding is a profoundly important biological function, instinct and basic human need, and women who want to breastfeed deserve to be able to achieve their personal breastfeeding goals without succumbing to what the Best for Babes Foundation calls the “Booby Traps”—the insidious cultural and institutional barriers to breastfeeding. Women should have the right to breastfeed just as much as women should have the right not to breastfeed; I agree with the Best for Babes Foundation that all women deserve to be respected and supported regardless of their infant feeding decision. I have done some soul-searching over the past year and realize that my anger was misdirected and that I lashed out at the medical community and my breastfeeding peers. It dawned on me that mothers are justifiably enraged because they are being urged to breastfeed but being set up to fail; the culprit isn’t breastfeeding science; it’s the complete systemic lack of support that new mothers have to deal with when they should be focusing on mastering a skill and enjoying their babies while being cheered on, coached and celebrated by our culture. In fact, a better article would have been “The Case Against ’The Booby Traps’ with a review of all the barriers that have made breastfeeding far more difficult than it needs to be—for example the 70% of hospitals that score poorly on breastfeeding support. I also realize in hindsight, that from my Upper Westside bubble, I wasn’t taking into account the experiences of most moms in America, whose peers don’t encourage breastfeeding, and who in fact are bombarded by formula marketing to the point that they can’t even leave the hospital without being forced to supplement with formula unnecessarily. Talk about pressure! I am now planning to dedicate myself to joining leaders in the breastfeeding community in fighting the “Booby Traps” so that more women can make an informed feeding decision and carry out their decision without hindrance.”
Members of the breastfeeding community have already accepted Ms. Rosin’s apology, and her generous offer is having an unexpected ripple effect. The Militant Breastfeeding Brigade has released a statement apologizing for fostering militancy in the breastfeeding community and for putting more pressure on expecting and new mothers instead of putting pressure on the barriers. “We now realize that badgering mothers to breastfeed has backfired,” said a spokesperson for the organization. “We are urging all mothers who struggled with breastfeeding and succeeded despite overwhelming obstacles to turn their passion and their zeal towards breaking down the barriers, such as poor maternity leave policies, and the lack of insurance coverage for lactation counseling and breastfeeding supplies. We believe mothers know what is best for themselves and their babies, and once the barriers are removed, breastfeeding rates will rise organically without urging mothers to breastfeed. Moms have gotten the message that breastfeeding, pumped breastmilk or donated breastmilk from a human milk bank if breastfeeding is not possible are the best choices for moms and babies. We are effectively closing down our organization and joining other organizations that are supporting mothers without judgment, pressure or guilt,” the spokesperson added.
When asked if they intended to issue a retraction of the Atlantic Monthly, an anonymous spokesperson said, “Are you crazy? That article got more hits than any other article we’ve ever published and has kept us from going out of business. In fact, we are so thrilled with it’s success that we are making it the first of a series, to be followed by ‘The Case Against Kissing.’ We expect these articles to be extremely popular and are already in talks to be acquired by the National Enquirer.” Last we heard, the anonymous spokesperson was fired for speaking with us about this matter. Oh well, you can’t win ‘em all.
Hope you enjoyed our April Fools joke!
Bettina & Danielle