Is Breastfeeding Maybe, Possibly, Inconclusively Drunk A Crime? No.


The news reports say that Stacey Anvarinia was arrested back in February of this year for breastfeeding her baby while drunk. According to San Francisco Gate’s Mommy Files:

Last February, police in Grand Forks, N.D., were called about a
domestic disturbance at the home of 26-year-old Stacey Anvarinia. When
they arrived, Anvarinia was drunk and slurring her words–and she was
breast-feeding. The officers arrested Anvarinia for neglect of her
six-week-old infant on the grounds that alcohol can pass from mother to
child via breast milk. [emphasis mine]
They never determined her blood alcohol level,
but they declared her "extremely intoxicated." The baby was taken to
the hospital for an examination and Anvarinia was locked up on charges
of child neglect.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

To schedule an interview with Amie Newman please contact Communications Director Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.

  • crowepps

    Will they be charging mothers who smoke with felony child neglect, since second hand smoke poses a real, not theoretical, risk to an infant’s health?

    Courts have already taken judicial notice of the negative impacts of smoking and used it as one of the factors in play when determining child custody during and after divorces.

    http://www.legalace.com/articles/smartdivorce/articles/smoking.shtml

  • invalid-0

    She was arrested and charged with child neglect. Yes, she breast fed the baby 3 times in front of the officers but she was also incapable of caring for the child.

    during the incident, he saw Anvarinia shake the baby girl, hold her without supporting her head and, at one point, hold her upside down by one leg.
    “http://www.grandforksherald.com/event/article/id/129226/

    She was also arrested less than 24 hours after sentencing for criminal mischief. She appeared intoxicated at that time.

    http://www.grandforksherald.com/event/article/id/129344/

    The arrest never was about breastfeeding while drinking – that is just an interesting side note for discussion

  • invalid-0

    I agree with your statements. In addition I find it appalling that it is suggested by the writer that being drunk and breast feeding was deemed criminal because it doesn’t conform to mainstream standards of mothering. I am feminist. I am very liberal. I like to have beer. I even like to get drunk from time to time. I am also a mother who NEVER consumed anything “POTENTIALLY” harmful to my child while nursing him. It is indecent. And her article is misleading as it doesn’t provide all the facts behind the arrest. I personally am glad this womyn was arrested. If you can’t drive drunk, how can you care for an infant?!! It’s the frigging principle. GET A GRIP!

  • invalid-0

    I understand the fight for women’s rights, but I feel in this situation, it should not be about the the rights of a drunken, irresponsible mother. What about the baby? Being held upsidedown by one leg. Being shaken. Being breastfed by potentially harmful milk. It may not have been scientifically proven to be harmful, but it also hasn’t been proven to NOT be harmful, so why would any loving, rational mother put their child at risk? It’s disgusting.

  • http://www.skepticalob.com invalid-0

    It is not a coincidence that Stacey Anvarinia is an underprivileged and socially marginalized woman. Her real crime was that she was not “performing motherhood” in the ways socially sanctioned by privileged, middle and upper class women. That’s why she was arrested in the first place, and, unfortunately, that’s why feminist protest has been muted.

    It’s time to end this woman’s Kafka-esque nightmare. Is Stacey Anvarinia a good mother? That is a decision that should be made by Child Protective Services. The key point is that she committed no crime and it is inappropriate and unjust to evaluate her mothering within the criminal justice system. And it is especially abhorrent to punish her “bad” mothering with jail time and by tearing her apart from her infant.

    Feminists should rally to her cause. While they may not personally approve of her choices, they should be loath to accept the criminalization of mothering behavior simply because it is socially disfavored. Breastfeeding while intoxicated is not a crime and there is no scientific evidence to support a claim that it is harmful.

  • invalid-0

    bravo! and thank you for speaking up. is anyone aware of any other cases like this? was a social worker called in immediately? any support system for the mother and child? seriously people, we simply don’t know all the facts and that is what the problem was in the first place. i’m the first to say protect the children, but come on, who amongst us will throw the first stone…….

  • alison-cole

    Women maintain the right to bodily autonomy during pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. None of us writing here know what happened the day that Ms Anvarinia was arrested, but she was jailed for something which is not a crime, though it may offend our sensibilities. I absolutely agree with Amy that it was her performance of motherhood which was in question, and I strongly oppose the involvement of the legal system in underprivileged families who do not meet middle-class standards of parenting behavior. If children are in demonstrable danger, as Amy and Amie point out, Child Protective Services need to be involved. Otherwise, we have the right to parent as we see fit in our own homes. This is a feminist issue, because so much of early mothering actually happens in and from women’s bodies, what we see is the erosion of women’s ability to maintain bodily autonomy while mothering. I write this not just for women like Ms Anvarinia, but for myself. I fear the day when the legal system will be able to tell me that I must vaccinate my child, that she cannot share my bed, or that I must give birth to my children in a hospital rather than the safety and privacy of my own home.

  • invalid-0

    I think a lot of you are missing the point. As both a family law and criminal attorney, the issue at hand is not the details of this particular case. The issue is the setting of legal precedent and the, “slippery slope” that this creates. In my opinion, charging her for neglect on the basis of intoxication was inappropriate without a test showing her blood alcohol content, and then showing sufficient empirical proof that what ever percentage her blood alcohol level was, it then in turn caused actual harm to the child or significant risk of harm. If these issues are not taken into account, then it gives to large a net to law enforcement who may feel empowered to go about arresting people they, in their own personal, subjective, opinion feel are “neglectful”.
    There are many manifestations that a person may exhibit due to organic problems which may slur their speech and coordination. For instance, this apparently started out as a domestic violence incident, what if she perhaps had only one glass of wine, so had alcohol on her breath, and then was hit in the head by her husband and suffered brain trauma which caused her speech to be slurred and her thinking and behavior to be odd? Would it be fair to arrest her with no objective proof that she was even intoxicated? In that scenario, that would be re-victimizing her.
    Legislation is there to protect us all for inappropriate intrusions into our personal lives, and we value that deeply as Americans. We have fought and died as a people for our liberties. If a law exists, and found to be constitutional by our courts, fine. However, in my opinion, the basis, drunkenness, would not have held up if challenged (it was not, she pled guilty), though they may have another basis for the neglect charge, and THAT would have been the proper charge. Her pleading to an inappropriate charge is what causes the problem.

  • crowepps

    What about the baby? Being held upsidedown by one leg. Being shaken.

    Both of these are excellent reasons to arrest someone for child neglect, which is illegal. 

    Being breastfed by potentially harmful milk.

    This is not a good reason to arrest someone, because it’s NOT illegal. 

    It may not have been scientifically proven to be harmful, but it also hasn’t been proven to NOT be harmful, so why would any loving, rational mother put their child at risk?

    No matter how ‘loving’ a mother is, when she’s intoxicated she’s not going to rational.  That’s why they call drunkeness ‘getting stupid’. 

     

    There are tons of other things that also haven’t been proven NOT to be harmful, for instance watching TV.  Do you want mothers to be arrested for nursing while watching TV because it "hasn’t been proven to NOT be harmful"?

    It’s disgusting.

    Child neglect is endemic in our culture and I agree, it is disgusting.  For all the rhetoric about how "children are our future" we as a society put very few resources into actually making sure that children are well taken care of.

  • http://www.ajlounyinjurylaw.com invalid-0

    Curious to know if her breast milk was tested to see how much alcohol was in it’s content. Interesting points.

  • invalid-0

    i will agree that she should not have been arrested without proving her intoxicated and by that i mean legally drunk i think that because no offense but allot of police officers and family protective agencies do and say things that are not always really the case to make a point that paring their way is the best way when it may not always be in fact it usually is not you cannot tell me what i can and cannot do in my own home as long as i am not harming my child or children who knows maybe the baby slipped and she grabbed her leg to prevent her from falling and they misconstrued it ?? as far as drinking i had a baby who was very colicky and i was breast feeding and my pediatrician i repeat my pediatrician told me i could have a glass or two of wine and it would relax both me and the baby so why are we judging this women instead of standing on her side that arresting her was wrong and against the LAW

  • invalid-0

    What does it matter if she was drunk or sober? She was neglectful in caring for her child as evidenced by her actions in front of the police.

    She shook the baby. She could not properly handle the child. I don’t care if she was drinking, I care that she took care of her baby.

    Ideally, services should be in place to help her. It’s up to her to take advantage of them.

  • http://sarahminer.com/blog invalid-0