If someone told you that you shouldn’t say breastfeeding is natural, would you heed her advice? That’s exactly what writers Jessica Martucci and Anne Barnhill argue in an online pediatrics journal this month.
“We are concerned about breastfeeding promotion that praises breastfeeding as the “natural” way to feed infants,” they write. The echo chambers of the far left reverberate with histrionic cries against accepting things as they really are. Now they’ve taken issue with yet another aspect of life as it truly is: motherhood.
What’s Really So Controversial About Breastfeeding?
Martucci and Barnhill detail how pro-breastfeeding campaigns by the U.S. Department of Health, World Health Organization, and other state-level departments promote breastfeeding as natural and “mom-made” over formula feeding. Admittedly, “it makes sense” to promote breastfeeding, as part of the decades-long effort to reverse the mid-twentieth century embrace of formula feeding (fully supported by the medical community).
But the authors pitch a couple complaints against this approach. They fear that idealizing the “natural” way to feed babies may bolster anti-vaccine sentiment, since anti-vaxers distrust pharmaceuticals and cling to more “natural” remedies.
But as Rod Dreher notes, this is weak argumentation. The small percentage of the population labeled “anti-vaxers” are so militant in their embrace of “natural” foods and medicine, and so utterly convinced of the malpractice of Big Pharma, that promoting breastfeeding as natural (which it is) will have little to no effect on vaccination rates.
If Transgenderism Is Normal, Breastfeeding Can’t Be
No, as Dreher rightly points out, the authors’ next argument reveals their real beef with breastfeeding:
“Coupling nature with motherhood, however, can inadvertently support biologically deterministic arguments about the roles of men and women in the family (for example, that women should be the primary caretakers of children). Referencing the “natural” in breastfeeding promotion, then, may inadvertently endorse a controversial set of values about family life and gender roles, which would be ethically inappropriate.” [Emphasis added.]
The authors go on to argue that “Invoking the ‘natural’ is also imprecise because it lacks a clear definition,” and that various health organizations “should avoid using the terms natural, unnatural and nature.”
But there’s a very simple problem with this argument: breastfeeding is natural. It’s not vague or confusing. It is a biological function, triggered by pregnancy and birth, sustained in relationship to the infant so long as the nutrition source is needed.
It is part of a beautiful process, developing the next generation from intimacy between a man and a woman, to conception, to pregnancy, to birth, and nurturing that child to adulthood. The fact that we have synthetic alternatives, which are useful to nourishing a child—even critical for some who cannot breastfeed—does not change the fact that breastfeeding is natural.
You can debate the value of breastfeeding over formula feeding till the next generation is back into diapers. It still won’t change the fact that breastfeeding is natural.
The Left Is Doing Battle With Human Nature
But Martucci and Barnhill discourage such references to what is or isn’t natural “unless they make transparent the ‘values or beliefs that underlie them.’”
This argument is blatantly ideological. The authors want to ditch the promotion of the “natural” because they don’t want traditional values and beliefs—usually consistent with natural human behavior, like breastfeeding and composing organic families—shaping health decisions.
The left is comfortable, even zealous, in promoting “natural” when it comes to the food we eat, preserving natural habitats, or preventing “man-made” climate change. But where human nature is concerned, they yearn for the complete overthrow of the natural order.
We’ve long had widespread access to chemical and surgical abortion (a grisly obsession of the left), but our age is also a new frontier of GMO babies and so-called sex change surgeries—medical interventions of the least natural sort.
Georgi is a Senior Contributor at The Federalist. Follow her on Twitter, @georgi_boorman.