Let the crunchiness roll on: a local judge decided that a nursing mother can wait until she's done nursing before taking the 9 hr medical boards. (Article is here, courtesy of the Boston Globe. Currier blogs about it here. )Sophie Currier asked for extra time in order to pump milk (she's nursing a 4 month old baby) during her test, and the judge said the following:
"The plaintiff may take the test and pass, notwithstanding what she considers to be unfavorable conditions," Brady wrote. "The plaintiff may delay the test, which is offered numerous times during the year, until she has finished her breast-feeding and the need to express milk."
This is impressive.
The judge is flat out missing the point here: "unfavorable conditions?" try instead, 'risk of infection' and 'painful engorgement.' The best part of this quote is, of course, "may delay the test...until she has finished her breast-feeding and the need to express milk." Hmm. Well, let's see: Currier has a residency waiting for her this fall, assuming she passes the boards. So I guess the judge is giving her, oh, a month? to finish nursing - unless, of course, he's saying that if she needs to nurse (and thus to express), she shouldn't be taking the boards OR the residency.
I smell an appeal. That judge came within a hair of effectively telling this woman to lose a major career opportunity, because she's a nursing mother. Oh, dearie me, I think I must now suppress an urge to cackle, evilly, because this cannot, should not end well for Judge Patrick Brady.
What's really rather sad is this: a judge, who is presumably an educated, thoughtful person, has proven just how little is known and understood about breastfeeding. (The folks over at the TSA should be feeling a little self-congratulatory just about now. They get it - Brady doesn't.) The comentators over at Currier's blog show just where lack of understanding turns into defensiveness and just plain ugliness. Currier's description of her situation is angry, a bit overdone, but should not dent the validity of the matter at hand. And yet - women unite? Not over this issue.
But wait! It gets sadder:
"The national board thinks that breastfeeding is a fine thing to do but it also thinks that having a standardized examination for licensure is also really important," said board spokesperson Ken Cotton.
Okay, so let's walk through this slowly. The question was as to whether Currian's situation warranted extra time. The judge, who does not understand either the ramifications of not pumping regularly or does not understand the nature of breastfeeding in regards to the length of the nursing relationship - or both, says there's no reason to accomodate her. The board administering the test says that she doesn't fall under the ADA as a nursing mother, so standards are standards.
But, this is a board testing Currian's right to be a doctor. And as a doctor, she would dispense advice such as, oh, lemme see, this:
" The AAP identifies breastfeeding as the ideal method of feeding and nurturing infants and recognizes breastfeeding as primary in achieving optimal infant and child health, growth, and development. ... It is recommended that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mutually desired."
And specifically on this subject (courtesy of the AP), "Dr. Ruth Lawrence, who chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics' breast-feeding section, called the medical examining board's position too rigid."
Or, what about those irresponsible folks at the World Health Organization, who say things like:
" A recent review of evidence has shown that, on a population basis, exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding infants. Thereafter infants should receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond."
Hmm. The exam is designed to test the medical competency of folk such as...these? Or these? Heaven help me if I ever get one of them as a doc - with the possible exception of the level-headed Baby Bop. Oh, dearie me. The women are defensive and the men are bitter, and none of these fine figures of would-be doctors are willing to stop being self-absorbed long enough to actually listen to the patient. Good grief.
Time to pack it in, ladies. The law, the test-givers - and the test-takers - have spoken. Who needs doctors, anyway? Especially the lactating ones.