Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Ok so I am really getting sick and tired of hearing more and more stories about mothers being asked to leave, move to a "more discreet spot", or cover up while breastfeeding their children. It is very very annoying. Not to mention in nearly every state in the union is it is against THE FREAKING LAW!!! Only 9 states do not currently have legislation specifically protecting a woman's right to breastfeed. They are: Arkansas, Idaho, Massachusetts*, Mississippi*, Nebraska*, North Dakota, Pennsylvania*, Tennessee, West Virginia*, and Wyoming. NONE have laws making it illegal or including it in their indecent exposure statutes. (* these states have legislation before their state governments to establish protection for breastfeeding rights)

The current breastfeeding legislation in your state can be found here.

A great article about why we need legislation protecting a mother's basic human right to breastfeed can be found here.

41 states currently have legislation on the books giving mothers the LEGAL right to breastfeed in a public place. Some states use wording such as "any place a mother and her child are authorized to be" or "any place of public accommodation". Some go further and say any place "public or private". Most exempt breastfeeding from the criminal indecent exposure statutes, no matter how much skin is bared, and many exempt breastfeeding mothers from jury duty.

Some of the best legislation out there is in New York and Louisiana.

New York code of law makes breastfeeding a civil right and the violation of that right by anyone constitutes discrimination. This discrimination bears the same penalties of law as any other act of discrimination under their civil rights law.

Louisiana enacted a breastfeeding in public law in 2001, which initially sets forth the importance of breastfeeding, and then goes on to state that it is discrimination to prohibit a mother from breastfeeding her baby in public. This law also states that it is segregation to ask her to go to a different place to breastfeed.

Other states such as Florida and Illinois do have punishments for breaking the law that gives women this right. Florida's for instance will levy fines on the person or business violating this right.

Federally The Right to Breastfeed Act, H.R. 1848, signed into law in September 1999, ensures a woman's right to breastfeed her child anywhere on federal property where she and her child are authorized to be.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney has been at the forefront of championing a bill before the House of Representatives that would protect the right to breastfeed as a civil right at the federal level. You can read the 2005 press release for this bill here.

Basically people need to get over themselves. It is ridiculous to continue to hold women in contempt for just doing what nature intended them to do. I do believe it is our basic human right to breastfeed, it should be protected as a legal and civil right as well. I agree with the Louisiana law that considers it segregation to ask a mother to move locations in order to nurse and I agree that it is discrimination to ask her to leave any location public or private where she is authorized to be. I believe that you cannot set limits on that right by requiring modesty or covering up. I believe that being forced to eat under a hot stuffy blanket infringes on a baby's rights as well!

Another mother put it this way, "If you are offended by it, then don't look at me. If your kid is curious about it, then tell him that is how babies eat. If your husband wants to check out what little amount of skin I have showing, then send him to a therapist or divorce him."

I think that pretty much covers it!



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