Colorado Rights Blog

ACLU of Colorado By: ACLU of Colorado 3.13.2014

A Room of One’s Own

When I found out that I was pregnant with twins, I was incredibly excited and also completely terrified. There were so many things to learn, including whether or not I would be able to breastfeed two infants. And then, 9 weeks before their due date, my babies decided that they were ready to make their appearance. They were tiny – both under 4 pounds – and not ready to be out in the big, bad world. Because they were so little and needed help eating, they had to stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for about 6 weeks. They needed all the support they could get, and for me, a brand-new mom only able to come for visits, that meant providing them with that ultimate, perfect food: breast milk.

When they were newborns, my babies were too little and weak to breastfeed, so that meant that, at first, I could only pump. Pumping breast milk is not glamorous. It’s hard not to feel a bit bovine. Plus, it can hurt, and since you have to pump about every 3 hours, it definitely restricts where you can go and what you can do when you’re not pumping.

After my kids got out of the hospital, I was lucky to have another 6 weeks at home with them. It was difficult leaving them to come back to work, but it was such a comfort knowing that I had such a supportive office environment for pumping. I was given access to a private room with a comfortable chair and some extra little touches just for me. I was given the freedom of a flexible schedule and understanding coworkers. So, when I am pumping, my only worry is about making enough milk for my babies and not about whether or not I will be able to pump at all.

Sadly, I am one of the luckier mothers in the working world. I have heard about other women, most recently at DISH Network, being forced to pump in front of their coworkers, being forced to pump in bathrooms, or not being allowed to pump on their own schedule. As much as I love my job and my coworkers, I would definitely not feel comfortable exposing myself to them in order to pump. And the idea of pumping – producing food for my children – in a germy, bacteria-ridden bathroom completely grosses me out, especially considering I won’t even pick up my kids, with their delicate immune systems, without washing my hands first.

Federal and state laws require employers to provide working mothers with an appropriate and comfortable place to pump, and the ACLU of Colorado has successfully defended those rights in the past. Nevertheless, some companies still refuse to do the right thing. It is surprising and disheartening to learn that in an era where “family values” are often cited as under attack, more companies aren’t embracing their working mothers and allowing them the time and privacy to provide for their children.

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  • On November 21, 2016, 13 Aurora police officers responded to a simple noise complaint at Alberto Torres’s home. As happens all too often, Aurora police officers escalated this minor issue into a brutal affair. They beat Mr. Torres solely because he delayed exiting his garage to ask his wife to interpret for him. With that beating, the lives of Mr. Torres and every member of his family were changed and he has yet to recover. ACLU of Colorado fought to obtain justice for Mr. Torres, and Aurora has now paid him $285,000. But money is not justice, and the brutality of the Aurora Police Department against people of color has continued unabated.

    It doesn’t have to be this way.

    Imagine, if instead of 13 officers being dispatched to Mr. Torres’s home for a noise complaint, the City of Aurora sent a civilian-led response team to check on his welfare and ask that he and his friends lower their sound, resulting in a non-violent solution to a minor issue?

    ACLU Settles Case With Aurora After Police Brutalize and Unlawfully Arrest Alberto Torres

  • Hope is a discipline. It’s a commitment that together, we can create a more perfect union. We won’t rest until we fulfill the promise of equal rights for ALL people in the United States.

    Join us in our fight to fulfill this promise and move forward with hope by donating to the ACLU of Colorado. Your donation supports the ACLU’s strengths that make our work effective and collaborative.

    Donate now at https://action.aclu.org/give/support-aclu-colorado

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    In the midst of this public health crisis, incarcerated people as vulnerable as Anthony, could and should be immediately released to safely live out their remaining years with family.

    Read more about Anthony Martinez and other at-risk incarcerated people. 

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    Read more about Ronald Johnson and other at-risk incarcerated people.