There Should Be a Law
Posted February 20, 2010
If you've read Your Right To Nurse In Public or keep up with informative Breastfeeding and the Law posts like this one on the Sustainable Mothering blog, you will have noticed the glaring absence of any federal laws to protect breastfeeding (except in federal buildings). Breastfeeding moms have to scrounge around state-by-state to figure out whether or not they will be protected when they need to nurse in public or pump at work.
Ideally, breastfeeding will be protected as a civil right, and those who attempt to deny mothers this right or discriminate against them will be subject to legal action. These kinds of strong state laws are a rarity, as discussed in this older but thoughtful discussion of Lactation and the Law from Mothering Magazine. At the minimum, basic federal legislation protecting breastfeeding moms, such as that proposed in the Health Care Reform Bill, would be passed.
How can moms help? Here's one easy but helpful way - write to your senators and representatives. Real people with real voices do reach politicians this way, and the more emails and phone calls, the better. If you are reading this now, you are literate, have internet access, and care about breastfeeding. That is all is takes! Brestfeeding moms tend to be a pretty intelligent bunch, too. I'd bet there are a lot of well above average writers out there, so let's do it! Armchair lactivism at its most convenient - and I'm going to make it even easier with a few helpful links!
Severall tips for crafting a letter are found here. You can find information about how to contact your senator here and how to contact your representatives here. These are the people charged with making and supporting laws in Washington to improve the health and well being of their delegates - like you and your family.
Remember, most of what breastfeeding moms want is included in The Breastfeeding Promotion Act sponsored last year by Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon. Tell your senators and representatives why this act is important to you and how you feel about being able to breastfeed your child without giving up the right to leave your house or to work. You might also throw in how much it costs for breastfeeding support and supplies to make it clear why this type of expense should tax deductible, considering the contribution you're making to public health.
Since many of the current laws to protect breastfeeding moms have very dull teeth or none at all, what can I do if I've been harassed or denied my rights? One way is to contact First Right. This organization helps breastfeeding moms who have been treated unfairly find justice.