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Television Showcase under fire for censoring breast milk scene from Outlander

The episode of Outlander that aired over the weekend is being praised south of the border as an important first, while fans in Canada say they are "disappointed" with Showcase, the Canadian specialty channel owned by Shaw Media that airs the show.

What's dividing fans of the show about a woman who travels back in time to Scotland in 1743? Is it the killing? The torture? Nope. It's the breast milk.

American audiences, who apparently don't share our delicate sensibilities, watched as Jenny, a character who had recently given birth, expressed her breast milk to relieve the pain of engorgement. But the scene was not included in the episode on Showcase, which aired Sunday evening.

And fans are not happy about it.

Some expressed disgust.

Others called out Showcase for what looks like questionable standards of what it is okay to present to viewers.

At least one Twitter user couldn't believe that Showcase would edit out that scene on Mother's Day.

As far as Mother's Day messages go, "Women can be total badasses but the biology of motherhood is too gross for television audiences" could definitely use some work.

In a statement sent to The Globe and Mail on Monday, Christine Shipton, senior vice president and chief creative officer of Shaw Media said the apparent censorship was instead the result of an unspecified error.

"As with all our previous Sunday night airings, it was our intention last night to air the newest episode of Outlander uncut. However, as a result of an error, an edited version of the episode 'The Search' was broadcast in its place," she said.

Showcase will re-broadcast the original, uncut version of the episode later this month, the statement said.

Pop culture moments like this one can go a long way to help overcome stigma, which doesn't seem like that much to ask of a show that critics praise as "a gloriously feminine text."

"It's a great opportunity to help to normalize breastfeeding," says Teresa Pitman, a spokesperson for La Leche League Canada, a non-profit organization that promotes breastfeeding. "They missed that for Canada, and I think that's really a shame."

Despite the fact that a large majority of mothers in Canada breastfeed their babies – more, in fact, than mothers in the U.S. – Pitman still occasionally hears from women who tried to breast feed in a restaurant and were told by the manager to do it in the restroom, and other similar stories.

"I wouldn't say these things happen a lot, but they still happen," she says. "And even when they're not happening a lot, women still worry about it, especially new mothers."

Besides helping to normalize breastfeeding, including the scene likely would have earned the show and its network more goodwill than grossed-out mom shaming.

"I think it would have been a lot of very positive reaction," Pitman says.

That certainly seems to be the case among viewers who saw the scene.

In a recent interview with Vulture, the actress who plays Jenny, Laura Donnelly, was asked about the breast milk scene and how rare it is to see anything like it in television.

"We're very used to seeing breasts displayed sexually on-screen, and I thought this was an opportunity to show breasts for what they're really there for, in a completely nonsexual manner, that really turns the tables," she said. "It's an absolute necessity at that point for her, and she doesn't think twice about it. It's not something that should be hidden away in any sense, and it's certainly nothing to be ashamed of."

Most of us agree.

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