LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — Due to the removal of a lactation room from the Nebraska State Capitol, Senator Machaela Cavanaugh had strong words on the floor of the Legislature on Wednesday.
“It’s devastating, disappointing… pro-life says my butt,” said Cavanaugh, who represents parts of central Omaha.
The lactation room, which had several seats for nursing mothers and pregnant women, is now a men’s office.
“It’s a place to accommodate working moms and their needs so they can be employees and be the best mom,” Cavanaugh said.
It caught the attention of fellow Senator Megan Hunt, a working mom herself.
“That’s what misogyny is, it’s institutional and systemic decision-making by people to exclude women, to exclude people who have these experiences,” Hunt said.
The move was made by Senator Dan Hughes, chairman of the board, who said the move had to be made due to ongoing renovations to the building’s HVAC system.
“There’s a lot of moving parts in this building, there’s a lot of office space, we have an awful lot of staff who need space to do their jobs,” Hughes said.
A few years ago, 3 News Now showed you what the original room looked like, a single stall in the women’s restroom.
SEE ALSO: Senators fight to have a place for mothers to pump their milk
They eventually got a lactation capsule, which Hughes says is still available.
“It’s not like we’ve taken away the only option for mothers who choose to be in the building expressing their milk or feeding their children,” Hughes said.
3 News Now caught up with Cavanaugh at her home in Omaha. She says the capsule is suitable for visitors, but not for the hundreds of employees of the Nebraska State Capitol.
“There’s no access to water except in the public toilets, so that’s why we needed a space. It’s so you can clean your gear and sanitize it and all those things , in a private sanitary space, not in a public toilet,” she said.
Cavanaugh says she wants the entire Legislature to be informed and for employees to double desks instead of removing the mothers’ room.
Until the issue is resolved on a more permanent basis, she has since left her office and is working in a general-purpose space.
“I will do this in perpetuity, whatever to me, what matters to me is having a mother’s bedroom,” Cavanaugh said.
UPDATE: This morning Senator Cavanaugh shared the following photo with 3 News Now Anchor Courtney Johns. This mannequin with breast pumps was placed by an anonymous protester outside the office of State Senator Dan Hughes.
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