Mitt Romney may disagree with a ban on formula freebies in hospitals, but breastfeeding advocates in Massachusetts can rejoice over a new decision on giving away free formula packs to new mothers. As of the beginning of July, all 49 maternity hospitals in the state had voluntarily eliminated the infant formula giveaways, reports CBS News.
Massachusetts first tried to instill a ban on formula freebies to new mothers in hospitals back in December 2005. However, as reported by Time, then governor Mitt Romney disagreed with such as ban. As Mitt Romney stated in February 2006, the decision to accept formula freebies should be up to each individual mother:
“We’re not disputing the health benefits of breast-feeding, but we think that new mothers should make that choice. If they choose to bottle-feed, they should be supported in that decision.”
Unfortunately for Mitt Romney’s uninformed logic, offering free formula to new mothers is associated with a decreased breastfeeding rate. As Anne Merewood, the director of The Breastfeeding Center at Boston Medical Center, explains:
“Someone might go home from the hospital determined to breast-feed, but if there’s formula sitting right there, they are more likely to use it. If it’s being endorsed by hospitals, people think there can’t be anything wrong with it.”
Mitt Romney might think that the decision to accept and use formula freebies is up to each individual mother, but reality indicates that mothers who are offered free infant formula as less likely to meet their breastfeeding goals. With the benefits of breastfeeding well-documented, formula freebies most definitely negatively impact women and babies.
Peggy O’Mara, the editor-in-chief of Mothering magazine, criticizes the practice of offering formula freebies to new mothers that Mitt Romney supports:
“It is naïve to believe that the formula industry’s distribution of formula to you is an innocent gift. A “gift” of formula is like a “gift” of a pack of cigarettes when you’re trying to quit smoking; it will undermine your resolve. The formula company has bought your name and address from the hospital, without your knowledge, and will now solicit you for sales. Do you really want this commercial intrusion into your life?”
When Massachusetts first tried to instill the ban on formula freebies in birthing hospitals, the ban passed. However, Mitt Romney quickly replaced council members who were in favor of the ban, and the decision was overturned several months later.
Dr. Lauren Smith, the medical director of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, is excited that the state has finally repassed the decision on the ban on formula freebies that Mitt Romney originally helped overturn. As The Boston Globe reports:
“We applaud the effort of all of the hospitals to make this explicit statement of their support of breast-feeding here in the Commonwealth.”
According to a 2011 study, just 25 percent of hospitals ban formula freebies to new mothers, a figure that is up from the mere 14 percent in 2007.
Do you agree with Mitt Romney that the decision to accept free infant formula should be up to each individual woman? Or do you agree that formula freebies hurt attempts at breastfeeding?