In an era when many feminists are (in my opinion rightly) dismayed by the suggestion that a woman’s right to an abortion should be subject to conditions, I have been shocked by the high level of acceptance when it comes to the notion that women who formula feed should be forced to justify their choice … I have witnessed a sizeable number of women, some of whom are self-declared feminists, debating on one another’s social media profiles and calling for formula to be made illegal.

The quote is from a piece by Lorrie Hearts, at the f word., which I found on Jessica Valenti’s blog from a link at The Feminist Breeder

This argument entirely misses the point, and it’s completely wrong to equate this issue with assaults on reproductive liberty. 

Here is why:

First of all, the post is about a hospital that has decided to stop giving free formula samples to new mothers.  Formula is still available.  Unlike the abortion analogy, here, no one is taking away anyone’s right to choose anything.  The only thing going away is FREE samples.  

This is totally unlike a legislative or judicial attack on women’s reproductive liberty.  When governments make it impossible for a woman to make decisions about her body, it is ILLEGAL for a woman to choose not to become a mother.  When a hospital stops providing free formula, it is LEGAL for a woman to choose to give formula, you just have to pay for it like you pay for everything else.  In fact, women now have more choices, because they can choose any brand they’d like to buy, and not be stuck with whatever the hospital got in free samples that week.  And when “a sizeable number of women” criticize your motherhood choices in a way that makes you feel lousy, it is of course still LEGAL to do what you’d like to do, and I suggest seeking friends who aren’t critical of you, and remembering that other people’s opinions are only that, and that ranting about infant feeding choices on Facebook is a far cry from taking your rights away.

Moreover, I so don’t get why formula feeding moms support the free-formula-giveaways.  The formula industry spends mega-dollars on all that freebie placement and marketing.  Where do you think that marketing budget comes from?  How do they make back what they spend giving away free samples everywhere?  They make it back by jacking up the price of formula.  Moms who buy formula pay for everyone’s freebies.  If less was spent on all the give-aways, moms who were buying it would pay less.

I hate when the language and ideals of feminism are perverted this way.  The formula industry is not “feminist.”  It does not exist to advance the cause and plight of women.  It exists to get your dollars.  They do not give away the free samples because they care about you and your sore nipples, they do it because they hope you’ll use their product and spend your money on them.  Period.  

Hospitals can do way more than they currently do to improve the care of new moms.  I have blogged about this before; we need systemic change that recognizes that new mothers need individualized, evidence-based, compassionate care.  But this particular thing is not an example of it.