Mark Donahue writes from New York: Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced that women who choose to forgo the option of an abortion and give birth will be aggressively persuaded to breastfeed their babies. The Mayor has ordered hospitals to put baby formula under lock and key and will only provide it after the mother endures a guilt provoking sermon on the advantages of breastfeeding. Stopping short of making breastfeeding a law, Mr Bloomberg said he’ll use persuasive methods for several months before implementing prison sentences for mothers who resist his demand to breastfeed their babies.
Mayor Bloomberg appeared on the Maury Povich show where he discussed his breastfeeding crusade:
MAURY POVICH: Mayor Bloomberg, thanks for joining us.
BLOOMBERG: It’s always a pleasure to be in front of television cameras.
MAURY POVICH: Mr Mayor, you’ve been awfully busy making laws that restrict the freedoms of your citizens. You’ve forced restaurants and food vendors to stop using trans fats and you’ve banned the sale of large-sized sugar-sweetened beverages. In 2002 you banned smoking in restaurants and bars and last year you extended that ban to include parks and beaches. Then last week you authorized NYPD officers to begin executing anyone smoking cigarettes within city limits.
BLOOMBERG: The welfare of my followers, I mean, citizens, is my first priority.
MAURY POVICH: Now you want to force women to breastfeed? What’s that all about?
BLOOMBERG: Surprisingly I’ve been able to restrict lots of personal freedoms without the slightest resistance. I was really bored the other day so I decided it was a good time to force New York women to breastfeed their babies.
MAURY POVICH: It is surprising that New Yorkers are allowing you to exert so much power over them without protest. One of the attractive things about the city has always been its reputation for not having any rules. It used to be said that anything goes in New York.
BLOOMBERG: That’s before I took power, I mean, office. I’m much more intelligent than my citizens so I’ve implemented rules intended to save them from themselves. By doing what I tell them my people will live longer than if they were left to their own counsel. And isn’t living a long, healthy life what it’s all about?
MAURY POVICH: Many think living free is what it’s all about.
BLOOMBERG: (chuckles) Living free is so yesterday, Maury. Living healthy under strictly enforced guidelines handed down by an authority figure who knows better is what people prefer today.
MAURY POVICH: You think people prefer to be told what they can and cannot do?
BLOOMBERG: Well, let’s just say they accept it today. But a year or two down the road they’ll be demanding it. Trust me.
MAURY POVICH: But why mandatory breastfeeding?
BLOOMBERG: Because I think children should be breastfed.
MAURY POVICH: Lots of women prefer other methods.
BLOOMBERG: New Yorkers are learning to understand that what they prefer is inconsequential to what I say they will do.
MAURY POVICH: You are pro-choice. You once said ‘reproductive choice is a fundamental human right.’
BLOOMBERG: What’s more important than the right to eradicate a burden you don’t want to deal with, Maury?
MAURY POVICH: But while advocating the right for women to choose abortion, in the same breath you negate their right to choose whether to breastfeed. You’ve unilaterally revoked their freedom to choose. Do you understand the distinction I’m trying to make?
BLOOMBERG: That women are incapable of making decisions without my guidance?
MAURY POVICH: (sighs heavily)
BLOOMBERG: I’ve actually given them more freedom, Maury. Now they can use their valuable time to worry about other things like global warming or how the owner of a restaurant franchise might feel about gay marriage.
MAURY POVICH: It just doesn’t make any sense.
BLOOMBERG: Maury, I’ve heard religious people say that God works in mysterious ways.
MAURY POVICH: I’ve heard that too.
BLOOMBERG: Well, it’s no different with me, Maury. I work in mysterious ways. Not everything is going to be clear-cut for the common man to understand. And I’m sure as hell not going to start explaining myself to my disciples whose best interests I have at heart.
MAURY POVICH: Mayor Bloomberg, does it really matter to you if kids are breast-fed?
BLOOMBERG: (laughs) Of course not!
MAURY POVICH: So why are you pursuing this?
BLOOMBERG: I’m a 70 year-old man worth 22 billion dollars and I’m bored out of my mind! Watching millions of people do what I tell them can be somewhat amusing.
MAURY POVICH: So everything has just been for your own amusement?
BLOOMBERG: Guilty as charged!
MAURY POVICH: I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg for visiting with us today. Join me tomorrow when my guest will be a blind transgender police officer and a woman who is addicted to eating lint.