The Far right takes on Breast Feeding
February 19, 2011 1 Comment
So, yesterday morning I turned on Good Morning America to see Michelle Bachman rage against the idea that Michelle Obama was encouraging new mothers to breastfeed. Somehow, the First Lady encouraging more women to do what study after study tells us is healthier for our kids is some sort of “nanny-state” tyranny (here’s the Times article on the “controversy”). And heaven forbid, the IRS should actually make breast pumps a tax deductible medical device. In fact, learning that the heretofore has not been the policy, is what I really find surprising.
I’m no breast feeding radical, my first two children were largely formula fed because of severe allergies to something in Kim’s milk (no problems at all with the last two). So I understand that medical reasons, certain life circumstances, etc., make breast feeding difficult, if not impossible, for many women. That, however, does not change the fact that for many women it is largely a choice, and when it is a choice, there’s nothing wrong with the government encouraging the choice that is going to lead to healthier citizens (Obama’s policy of nudging, if you will). Bachman suggested that the IRS exemption on breast pumps was “social engineering” with the tax code, which was clearly horrible. No more social engineering, of course, than the home mortgage interest deduction, flexible spending accounts, or insulin pumps.
Jon Cohn likewise takes on the absurd fact that Republicans keep attacking the Obama administration for trying to make Americans healthier (something tells me they didn’t vote against the food pyramid). And, if there’s any doubt the government is right to encourage breast feeding, I think it’s pretty hard to argue with Cohn’s conclusion:
According to the New York Times, a study from Harvard Medical School suggested that, if 90 percent of new mothers followed recommended breast-feeding guidelines, the U.S. would save $13 billion a year in health care costs, while saving the lives of 900 infants who would avoid or survive infections. But I know better than to expect the likes of Michele Bachmann to consider the results of respectable academic research, let alone the needs of new mothers trying to juggle work and family.