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Archive for August, 2008

Every woman has the constitutional right to breastfeed in public. As stated by the U.S. Supreme Court, “Nourishment is necessary to maintain the child’s life, and the parent may choose to believe that breastfeeding will enhance the child’s psychological as well as physical health. In light of the spectrum of interests that the Supreme Court has held specially protected we conclude that the Constitution protects from excessive state interference a woman’s decision respecting breastfeeding her child.” 650 F.2d at 787.

Although I think that it’s great to want to help women know for a fact that they have a right to breastfeed, I disagree with the push for ‘protective’ legislation at the state and local level primarily because it misleads women into thinking that without a local or state law or clarification of the state law, they are not protected. Furthermore as we saw with the ‘Equality’ bill in England (not that England is a part of the US or anything!) and a NIP bill in TN, many times these laws actually fall short of the absolute language of protection of all breastfeeding moms and children. In TN the state law is that babies younger than 13 months can nurse in public. In England there was a recent attempt to prevent harassment of nursing moms whose children are 6 months or younger.

The Supreme Court affirmed the Constitutional right to breastfeed in public (as reviewed below). Therefore, any woman who is challenged locally should cite the Supreme Court case – The Supreme Court is the mandatory authority on all law within the U.S. No local exceptions are legally permissible. You might consider suing the person who tells you otherwise and tries to interfere with your rights by telling you to stop, kicking you out, etc. (Dallas police / DFW airport police – ARE YOU LISTENING?). You might even get damages and legal fees paid in a tort because they are clearly at fault and acting outside the law!

Bottom line – excessive state interference is not allowed and NO policeman can legally remove you from anywhere because you were breastfeeding, or prevent you from breastfeeding anywhere. For a policeman to remove you because the owner asked him to, because you were breastfeeding – is the state interfering with your right to feed your child and more importantly your child’s right to be fed.

I’d like to see ANY policeman try to go more than a few hours without a couple of donuts. Why should a baby have to wait to eat? (Not talking to you, Ezzo! You can talk to the hand…)

Breastfeeding Legislation
http://www.gotmom.org/breastfeeding_legislation.cfm 

Republished From Gotmom.org: The images of a woman’s breast are routinely displayed in the media through magazines, movies, and television. In some states, still, women are penalized or harassed when they breastfeed in public. When did breastfeeding become an illegal act? Never.Every woman has the constitutional right to breastfeed in public. As stated by the U.S. Supreme Court, “Nourishment is necessary to maintain the child’s life, and the parent may choose to believe that breastfeeding will enhance the child’s psychological as well as physical health. In light of the spectrum of interests that the Supreme Court has held specially protected we conclude that the Constitution protects from excessive state interference a woman’s decision respecting breastfeeding her child.” 650 F.2d at 787.

In the United States, breastfeeding in public is legal anyplace a mother is allowed to be with her baby. Unfortunately, many people do not know or understand this. In response, many states have passed legislation to clarify the legality of breastfeeding. Additionally, some states have gone on to address other issues of breastfeeding, such as excusing breastfeeding mothers from jury duty, authorizing accommodation of breastfeeding mothers in their workplaces, and establishing programs that promote and educate about breastfeeding. Provided below are ten categories of state breastfeeding legislation.1 

Ten categories of state breastfeeding legislation: 

  1. Establish legislative recognition of breastfeeding as important or recommended
  2. Declare or clarify a woman?s right to breastfeed in public
  3. Protect breastfeeding employees in the workplace, allow for amenities
  4. Provide education on and promotion of  breastfeeding
  5. Excuse nursing mothers from jury duty
  6. Consider best interests of a nursing infant in determining parental visitation or entitlements in divorce or separation
  7. Provide guidelines for establishing and running milk banks
  8. Allow for nursing babies to accompany their mothers in prison
  9. Exempt breastfeeding equipment or supplies from state sales tax
  10. Comply with international code of marketing for breast-milk substitutes

Forty of the fifty states now have legislation that specifically addresses, permits or promotes breastfeeding. In states without specific breastfeeding legislation, women still have the right to breastfeed in public.  Click here (PDF) to see a summary of state breastfeeding laws.

Also provided below are additional resources regarding breastfeeding legislation in the United States.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney – Champion of Breastfeeding

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) has been a champion of breastfeeding on the national level, promoting legislation that would protect breastfeeding by new mothers, provide for a performance standard for breast pumps, and provide tax incentives to encourage breastfeeding. For more information about federal intitiatives, click here.

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http://www.aclu.org/workplacerights/gen/32516prs20070621.html

NYCLU Applauds Passage of Bill Enabling Working Mothers to Continue Nursing (6/21/2007)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: media@aclu.org

Group Says Law Would Protect Mothers’ Right to Use Breast Pump on Work Breaks

NEW YORK – The New York Civil Liberties Union today applauded the passage in the New York State Legislature of a bill that would ensure working mothers’ right to pump breast milk during their work breaks, enabling them to continue breastfeeding upon returning to work after giving birth.

“Women shouldn’t have to choose between breastfeeding and going back to work,” said Galen Sherwin, Director of the NYCLU’s Reproductive Rights Project. “This bill would require that employers permit women to breast pump during existing breaks and to take reasonable steps to provide areas for nursing mothers to use for that purpose. The passage of this bill is an important step to enable nursing women to participate in the workforce.”

Because pumping at work is critical to being able to continue breastfeeding at home, a hostile workplace can effectively prevent a working woman from nursing. If a woman is unable to pump during the work day she will stop producing milk, since the quantity of breast milk produced is directly related to the amount that is expressed, either by breastfeeding or pumping. She may also experience pain or infection.

The NYCLU now urges Governor Eliot Spitzer to sign the bill into law.

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Joke for today: People who have a problem with nursing moms are like fossils – old-fashioned, brittle, flaky, and hard-headed. Joke at the expense of Fossil.

http://www.aclu.org/womensrights/parenting/30561prs20070703.html

NYCLU and Fossil, Inc. Settle Discrimination Claim Brought by Breastfeeding Woman (7/3/2007)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: media@aclu.org

 

NEW YORK – The New York Civil Liberties Union today announced the settlement of a discrimination claim against Fossil, Inc., arising from an incident in which a woman was harassed for attempting to breastfeed her infant son while on a buying trip in the company’s Manhattan showroom.  New York’s civil rights law provides that a mother has a right to breastfeed her baby “in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be.”

“No woman should endure harassment for breastfeeding her infant, but Fossil agreed to do the right thing as soon as they learned about this incident,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU.

The NYCLU sent a letter to the company on February 13, 2007 outlining Lass King’s claims that she was told to leave the showroom in August 2006 after she started breastfeeding her eight-week-old son, Cody, and that she was later told she was banned from the showroom.  As part of the settlement, the company issued a policy affirming that it allows breastfeeding in all Fossil stores and showrooms, and has agreed to educate and train its staff on the policy. The company has also apologized to King and agreed to compensate her for the mistreatment.

The NYCLU applauded Fossil’s swift response.

“We are pleased that Fossil’s management was willing to use this as an opportunity to update its policies and educate its staff on the right to breastfeed,” said Lieberman.

“Public health experts and the law agree that families who choose to breastfeed their children should be able to do so whenever and wherever necessary,” said Galen Sherwin, Director of the NYCLU’s Reproductive Rights Project.  “We hope that bringing attention to these incidents will help improve corporate policies, educate the public, and ultimately remove barriers to breastfeeding.”

King was represented by Sherwin and Arthur Eisenberg of the NYCLU and by Roberta Kaplan, Ralia Polechronis and Lisa Ruesch of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP.

“Paul, Weiss is proud to be an integral part of the NYCLU’s fight to protect the rights of breastfeeding mothers,” Kaplan said.

This is the latest in a string of recent victories for breastfeeding women. After the NYCLU and Paul, Weiss advocated on behalf of a woman who was harassed for breastfeeding at a Toys R Us in New York City, Toys R Us issued a new policy affirming the rights of breastfeeding women and children. The New York State Legislature recently enacted a law that would require employers to permit women to pump breast milk while on the job.

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http://www.aclu.org/womensrights/parenting/26748prs20060914.html

Toys “R” Us Violates Law by Barring Breastfeeding in Store, NYCLU Warns (9/14/2006)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
CONTACT: media@aclu.org

 

NEW YORK — The New York Civil Liberties Union today warned the Toys “R” Us company that it violated civil rights law by telling a mother that she could not breastfeed her infant in a store.

“It’s ironic that a store that caters to children would prohibit a mother from doing what is best for her child,” said Donna Lieberman, NYCLU Executive Director. “One would think that Toys “R” Us would have moved past the puritanical notions that this incident reflects.”

According to the NYCLU, on Monday September 11, a saleswoman approached Chelsi Meyerson after she began to breastfeed her seven-month-old son in an out-of-the-way section of the Toys “R” Us store on 42nd Street in Manhattan, where she was shopping with her family. The saleswoman informed Meyerson that she was not “allowed” to breastfeed in the store unless she moved to the basement and that her breastfeeding was “inappropriate” because there were “children around.” When Meyerson asserted that she was in the right and refused to move, four more store employees began to harass her, and the original saleswoman called security.

“Breastfeeding is not a crime, and the right to breastfeed is simply not a right that I am willing to give up,” Meyerson said. “This incident was humiliating and dismaying. I’m asking Toys “R” Us to guarantee that it will never happen again.”

In a letter to the company sent today, the NYCLU sought a meeting with Toys “R” Us officials; an apology; appropriate compensation for Meyerson; and a written guarantee that Toys “R” Us would permit breastfeeding in its stores and would train its staff about the policy. 
 
Galen Sherwin, Staff Attorney for the NYCLU Reproductive Rights Project, added: “This is about public health, not public morality.”

Twelve years ago the NYCLU lobbied for and secured the passage of a law that specifically establishes the right of all New York mothers to breastfeed in public. That statute, a section of New York State’s Civil Rights Law, provides that “a mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be.” 
 
“Prohibiting public breastfeeding is bad public health policy — and it’s also against the law,” said Elisabeth Benjamin, NYCLU Reproductive Rights Project Director. “Health care providers and the law agree that families who choose to breastfeed their children should be able to do so whenever and wherever necessary.”

The NYCLU’s letter is available at:www.nyclu.org/pdfs/toys_r_us_ltr_091406.pdf

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