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 Wednesday.
“It is devastating, disappointing... pro-life state my butt,” said Cavanaugh, who represents parts of central Omaha.
The lactation room, which had multiple seats for nursing and pregnant moms, is now a man’s office.
“It is a place to accommodate working mothers and their needs so that they can be employees and be the best mom,” said Cavanaugh.
It drew blowback from another Senator Megan Hunt, a working mom herself.
“This is what misogyny is, it’s institutional, systemic decision making on the part of people to exclude women, to exclude people who have these experiences,” said Hunt.
The move was made by Senator Dan Hughes, chair of the executive board, who said the move had to be made due to ongoing renovations on the building's HVAC system.
“There are a lot of moving pieces in this building, there’s a lot of office space, we have a tremendous amount of personnel that need space to do their job,” said Hughes.
A couple of years ago, 3 News Now showed you what the original room looked like, a single stall in a women’s restroom.
They eventually got a lactation pod, which Hughes said is still available.
“It’s not like we have taken away the only option for mothers who choose to be in the building to express milk or feed their children,” said Hughes.
3 News Now caught up with Cavanaugh at her Omaha home. She says the pod is fine for visitors, but not for the hundreds of female employees at the Nebraska State Capitol.
“It doesn't have access to water, except for in the public restroom which is the whole reason we needed a space. It's so you can clean your equipment and sanitize it and all those things, in a private sanitary space, not a public restroom," she said.
Cavanaugh says she wishes the entire legislature was informed and that employees would double up on offices instead of removing the mothers' room.
Until the problem is fixed more permanently, she has since moved out of her office and is working in a general use space.
“I will do it in perpetuity, doesn’t matter to me, what matters to me is to have a mother's room,” said Cavanaugh.
UPDATE: This morning Sen. 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.