Wednesday, June 25, 2014

US State Legislation on Breastfeeding in Public ~ It's all about perspective

It is all about perspective, right?

Take for example, the new law in the State of Michigan.  Governor Rick Snyder, who’s motto is “Reinventing Michigan: Getting it Right.  Getting it Done.” certainly got it right when it comes to
women breastfeeding in public.

Or is it that babies have the right to eat in public?

Or is it that public breastfeeding isn’t a crime?

Snyder said in a statement this week: “It’s no mystery that the American Academy of Pediatrics said it’s (breastmilk) the ultimate source of nutrition for infants.  And Michigan’s federal target numbers have not been where they need to bel.  The hope is with a bill like this, the numbers will climb.”

But it’s not only legislation that will increase breastfeeding rates.  We must look at several factors including the media.  Recently, the Florida Times-Union wrote a piece on “One of the Most Important Decisions When You’re Having A Baby” and linked the decision to breastfeed with choosing décor for the nursery or what type of diapers to purchase.

An excerpt from Michigan’s online news service, Mlive, stated:

Forty-five states already have some form of law allowing women to breastfeed a child in public or private locations, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures. Another 29 states exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws.

"There's nothing more natural than giving birth and there's nothing more natural than feeding your child using your body," Shannon Polk, executive director of the Michigan Breastfeeding Network, said during an afternoon press conference in Lansing.

"You wouldn't eat your lunch in a bathroom. Why should our most precious and sweetest citizens have to eat in a bathroom?"

Health experts say that normalizing breastfeeding will benefit babies in Michigan, which ranks in the bottom third of states for breastfeeding rates.

Breastfeeding provides optimal nourishment for children, shields them from infections and helps fight obesity, according to Dr. Matthew Davis, the state's chief medical executive for the Department of Community Health.

And perhaps I am mincing words, but why do women have to be allowed to breastfeed a child in public? If it is a normal bodily function for the mother/baby dyad, it must be all about perspective.

Good for Michigan and good for the other forty-six states that have a law protecting breastfeeding.

Now when are the other four going to step up?

From the National Conference of State Legislatures:

State Breastfeeding Laws

Forty-six states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location. (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.)

Twenty-nine states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws. (Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.)

Twenty-five states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have laws related to breastfeeding in the workplace. (Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.)

Sixteen states and Puerto Rico exempt breastfeeding mothers from jury duty or allow jury service to be postponed. (California, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota and Virginia.)

Five states and Puerto Rico have implemented or encouraged the development of a breastfeeding awareness education campaign. (California, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri and Vermont.)

Several states have unique laws related to breastfeeding. For instance,
Virginia allows women to breastfeed on any land or property owned by the state. Puerto Rico requires shopping malls, airports, public service government centers and other select locations to have accessible areas designed for breastfeeding and diaper changing that are not bathrooms. Louisiana's law requires state building to provide suitable areas for breastfeeding and lactation.

At least three states have laws related to child care facilities and breastfeeding. Louisiana prohibits any child care facility from discriminating against breastfed babies. Mississippi requires licensed child care facilities to provide breastfeeding mothers with a sanitary place that is not a toilet stall to breastfeed their children or express milk, to provide a refrigerator to store expressed milk, to train staff in the safe and proper storage and handling of human milk, and to display breastfeeding promotion information to the clients of the facility.Maryland requires child care centers to promote proper nutrition and developmentally appropriate practices by establishing training and policies promoting breastfeeding.

Maryland exempts the sale of tangible personal property that is manufactured for the purpose of initiating, supporting or sustaining breastfeeding from the sales and use tax. Louisiana prohibits state sales or use tax from being applied to any consumer purchases of breastfeeding items.

CaliforniaNew York and Texas have laws related to the procurement, processing, distribution or use of human milk.

New York created a Breastfeeding Mothers Bill of Rights, which is required to be posted in maternal health care facilities. New York also created a law that allows a child under one year of age to accompany the mother to a correctional facility if the mother is breastfeeding at the time she is committed.

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