Follow up: breastfeeding med student denied extra time for exam

Filed under: Just For Moms, Your Pregnancy, Work Life, Health & Safety: Babies, Nutrition: Health

Last week, I posted a story about Sophie Currier, a medical student who was requesting longer breaks during an exam so that she could pump breast milk for her 4-month-old daughter. The National Board of Medical Examiners initially refused her request, saying that all students must receive equal treatment when taking the exams and pointing out that other breastfeeding mothers have found the 45 minutes of break time to be enough.

Currier took her case to federal court and yesterday a decision was made to not allow her the extra time. In the ruling, Norfolk Superior Court Judge Patrick Brady said the 33-year-old mother of two has other options available to her and therefore the rules will not be bent for her benefit.

"The plaintiff may take the test and pass, notwithstanding what she considers to be unfavorable conditions. The plaintiff may delay the test, which is offered numerous times during the year, until she has finished her breast-feeding and the need to express milk," he said.

Needless to say, Currier is unhappy with the decision, saying, "The judge's conclusion that there is no harm to a woman to putting her career off for a year is the basis of discrimination. Men do not have to put off their careers because they are feeding a child."

Currier had already asked for and received special accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act for her dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, allowing her to take the one-day test over two days. In addition, the board had offered her the option of taking the test in a separate room where she could pump breast milk during the exam breaks. She also had the option to leave the test center to breast-feed during break times.

"Where she's disabled, we've addressed that under federal law, but this is something that is not a disability," said the board's attorney, Joseph Savage. "This means it will be somewhat more difficult for her to take the test, but there are a lot of people who face challenges in taking the test - childcare obligations, medical conditions that make it harder - and we just can't change the test for everybody who faces a challenge."

Currier's lawyer, Christine Smith Collins, now plans to ask the state Appeals Court to hear the case. Do you think the judge's decision is fair. Are they forcing Currier to put off her career?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.