Breast Feeding Mom Wins Appeal

Friday, October 5th 2007, 10:36 am

By: News On 6

BOSTON (AP) An appeals court cleared the way Friday for a Harvard student to receive extra break time during a lengthy medical licensing exam so she can pump breast milk for her infant daughter.

The state Appeals Court refused to overturn a decision issued by a single justice of the court last week allowing Sophie Currier, 33, the extra time. The decision clears the way for the woman to take the exam next week.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court already has declined to hear the case.

Sophie Currier sued after the National Board of Medical Examiners said she could have only the standard 45 minutes of break time during the nine-hour exam.

Last week, Judge Gary Katzmann of the Appeals Court ruled in favor of Sophie Currier, saying she needs the extra break time to pump breast milk to feed her 5-month-old baby. Judge Gary Katzmann said if she didn't get the extra time, she would not be on ``equal footing'' with men and non-lactating women who take the test.

Ignoring the need to pump could cause her significant pain, Judge Gary Katzmann said.

The licensing board appealed Katzmann's ruling to the full, three-judge panel of the appeals court. On Friday, the full court refused to overturn Judge Gary Katzmann's decision.

The court said it based its decision on whether Judge Gary Katzmann abused his discretion or made a clear error of law. The court said it found neither. It did not rule on the merits of the case.

Neither Sophie Currier's attorney nor an attorney for the National Board of Medical Examiners immediately returned calls seeking comment Friday.

Sophie Currier already has received special accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act for dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, including permission to take the test over two days instead of one. The board also offered her a separate testing room where she can express milk during the test or during break time, and the option to leave the test center to breast-feed during break times.

Sophie Currier has finished a joint M.D.-Ph.D. program at Harvard University while having two babies in the past two years. She has been offered a residency in clinical pathology at Massachusetts General Hospital beginning in November but cannot accept it unless she passes the test. Her goal is a career in medical research.

She took the exam in April when she was 8 1/2 months pregnant, but failed by a few points.

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