What are a Mother’s Rights?
Anyone who isn’t a cave dweller knows that there are distinct advantages to both mother and baby when she breastfeeds. Numerous studies performed in the past few years have shown that babies who are breastfed are far less likely to suffer from a variety of illnesses and as a result, need fewer health care visits, medications, and hospitalizations than babies that were never breastfed. Mothers who breastfeed also enjoy benefits such as quicker return to pre-pregnancy weight, fewer instances of pre-menopausal breast cancer and other problems. Unfortunately, it has only been in the past few years that the law has stepped up to protect women who choose to breastfeed their babies in public.
This article will serve as a brief general overview of breastfeeding in public laws, both federal and states.
Forty-five of the fifty states, as well as the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands, have breastfeeding in public laws that protect a woman’s right to breastfeed her baby in public places.
Twenty-eight states, as well as the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands, have breastfeeding in public laws that protect a nursing woman from indecency laws.
Twenty-four states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have laws that apply to women who breastfeed their child in the workplace.
Twelve states and Puerto Rico offer exemptions from jury duty to women who are breastfeeding. These states also require educational programs that promote breastfeeding.
Five states as Puerto Rico have implemented or encourage the implementation of classes to encourage breastfeeding awareness.
In addition to those above, several states have gone further to pass additional related breastfeeding in public laws. These include:
Virginia requires that breastfeeding be allowed in any building owned by the state.
California, New York, and Texas have laws pertaining to the use and distribution of human milk.
New York passed the Breastfeeding Mother’s Bill of Rights, which outlines the standards of care mothers should be able to expect, before, during, and after the birth of her baby as related to breastfeeding.
It is also important to note that as of March 23, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the so-called Obama Care law, requires employers to allow break times for women who nurse their babies up to one year after the birth of that child. Further, a room, not a restroom, must be made available for the mother to express her breast milk. Employers who have fewer than 50 employees and would suffer undue hardship by the implementation of this law are not covered. The Act also requires that breastfeeding be allowed in all federal buildings.