Amend NC Breastfeeding Law to Include Enforcement Provision
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Amend NC Breastfeeding Law to Include Enforcement Provision
You can find your NC representative here: http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/members/memberList.pl?sChamber=House&sSortOrder=district
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For any further questions or information, you may email Heather James, petition starter at: AmendBFingLawNC@gmail.com
Dear Representative ____________,
All across our great state, terrible things are happening to mothers and babies... they're being shoo-ed into smelly bathrooms, sweaty locker rooms, hot vehicles and crowded dressing rooms. Why? Because they feed their babies the way Nature intended. If they're not being out-right ostracized from everyone else by going to another room, they're actually being asked to leave establishments entirely. This is unacceptable. Babies have the right to eat whenever and wherever their hunger arises and mothers have the right and the duty to provide their children with milk.
Imagine a young, impressionable mother of 2. She has a busy 3 year old and a brand-new 1 month old. Her baby is hungry. Her 3 year old is playing with friends at the park. It is a hot day. Do we have the mother go to her hot, cramped vehicle and make her 3 year old quit playing just to go feed the baby? Do we expect her to stay seated where she is but cover this baby with a blanket on this hot day? Even if it's not a hot day, why must babies be covered? What does covering something mean? It means something behind the covering shouldn't be seen and why is that? Because it's shameful or embarrassing or too sexual. Breastfeeding is none of these. If breastfeeding is sexual, giving a child cow's milk is bestiality. They're neither though. Breastfeeding is the simple act of supply and demand... babies demand/need to be fed and mothers provide the food. It's a really great, simple system. Our society mucks it up though... royally.
Back to this impressionable mother... she's breastfeeding her new baby... perhaps it's the first time she's tried. Maybe she didn't have the knowledge or the support to breastfeed her first child. Maybe she's the first woman in her family to be breastfeeding a baby. She's trying hard to do it right yet she's worried because our society says breastfeeding isn't good enough, it's only for poor women, it's gross, it's animalistic, it's too time-consuming etc. She's nursing her baby in the park while watching her 3 year old play. A park employee -- perhaps a groundskeeper pruning a nearby bush -- sees what she's doing and is offended. He tells her she has to stop doing that or leave the park. She says her baby is hungry and must be fed. He tells her to leave or he's calling the police. The mother is publicly humiliated when she's already in a fragile state of newly breastfeeding a baby. She needed a confidence boost... not someone telling her she's an indecent woman doing a nasty thing. So she leaves out of shame and to avoid further conflict and quits breastfeeding altogether because she's terrified such a thing might happen again. How will she ever be able to leave her house and enjoy the company of others if she's relegated to her couch alone to feed her baby? She tells all her friends what happened and they, in turn, are also frightened of that possibility as no one likes public humiliation. All these women who don't do what's nutritionally best for their children because of their own fear surrounding other people's ignorance.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding until a minimum of age 1. The World Health Organization recommends children be breastfed until the minimum age 2. So mothers who are breastfeeding their babies are not only doing what's best for them, they're doing what's NORMAL for our species.
Science backs up the claim that babies should be breastfed. Doctors back up that claim as do national and international medical associations. Mothers and babies know it instinctively. If we are to do what our species was designed to do, we need to make it as easy as possible. We need to take away the stigma and more people need to see it publicly to normalize it.
Breastfeeding has a wide array of benefits. You can find many of them listed here: http://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/
There are costly risks to not breastfeeding. You can view that information here: http://kellymom.com/pregnancy/bf-prep/bfcostbenefits/
And here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2812877/
This is where NC's law comes into play... it's weak. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-190.9 (1993) states that "...Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a woman may breast feed in any public or private location where she is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother's breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breast feeding." (HB 1143)
So it says a woman can breastfeed anywhere she's allowed to be, her breast and nipple may be exposed and she's not violating indecent exposure laws. Ok. How is it then that so many people and places of business regularly ask women to cover up, go to the bathroom or leave the location entirely if she's allowed to be there and allowed to feed her baby? The law must be amended to include that asking a woman to leave, cover up or go to another room of that location is in violation of the mother's and child's rights, as well as the law. When it happens, a breastfeeding woman has no recourse... there is nothing she can do about anyone harassing her except take it to the media. Oftentimes when a woman takes it to the media, they're not necessarily supportive. They often spin the story into something controversial and the comments the online news stories garner clearly illustrate that... the media only takes it on to stir the pot and get views. A woman doesn't need permission to feed her child... the law needs to reflect that. It needs to be absolutely illegal to ask a mother to stop feeding her child or to cover it up like it's an indecent behavior. Bottle-feeding mothers may feed whenever and wherever even with a fake breast, which is what a bottle is modeled after. Breastfeeding mothers and their children must be afforded those same rights.
The following is a link that illustrates why the law needs to be amended because as it stands, "...a breastfeeding law without an enforcement provision is of little to no value to breastfeeding women." http://breastfeedinglaw.com/why-is-an-enforcement-provision-important/
Other states have an enforcement provision written into their breastfeeding laws. NC needs to get on board.
NEW JERSEY -- N.J. Rev. Stat. § 26:4B-4/5 (1997) entitles a mother to breastfeed her baby in any location of a place of public accommodation, resort or amusement wherein the mother is otherwise permitted. Failure to comply with the law may result in a fine.
VERMONT -- Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 9, § 4502 (j) (2002) and 2002 Vt. Acts, Act 117 state that breastfeeding should be encouraged in the interest of enhancing maternal, child and family health. The law provides that a mother may breastfeed her child in any place of public accommodation in which the mother and child would otherwise have a legal right to be. The law directs the human rights commission to develop and distribute materials that provide information regarding a woman's legal right to breastfeed her child in a place of public accommodation. (SB 156)
Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 21, § 305 (2008) requires employers to provide reasonable time throughout the day for nursing mothers to express breast milk for three years after the birth of a child. Also requires employers to make a reasonable accommodation to provide appropriate private space that is not a bathroom stall, and prohibits discrimination against an employee who exercises rights provided under this act. (2008 Vt. Acts, Act 144, HB 641)
2008 Vt. Acts, Act 203 directs the commissioner of health to convene a healthy worksites work group to identify priorities and develop recommendations to enhance collaborative learning and interactive sharing of best practices in worksite wellness and employee health management. The work group shall examine best practices in Vermont and other states, including strategies to spread the adoption of workplace policies and practices that support breastfeeding for mothers. The commissioner is required to make recommendations in a report on healthy living initiatives to the legislature by January 15, 2009. (HB 887)
WASHINGTON -- Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.88.010 (2001) states that the act of breastfeeding or expressing breast milk is not indecent exposure. (HB 1590)
Wash. Rev. Code § 43.70.640 (2001) allows any employer, governmental and private, to use the designation of "infant-friendly" on its promotional materials if the employer follows certain requirements. (2001 Wash. Laws, Chap. 88)
Wash. Rev. Code § 49.60.30(g) provides that it is the right of a mother to breastfeed her child in any place of public resort, accommodations, assemblage or amusement. (2009 Wash. Laws, Chap. 164, HB 1596)
Wash. Rev. Code § 49.60.215 states that it is an unfair practice for any person to discriminate against a mother breastfeeding her child in any place of public resort, accommodations, assemblage or amusement. (2009 Wash. Laws, Chap. 164, HB 1596)
CONNECTICUT -- Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-40w (2001) requires employers to provide a reasonable amount of time each day to an employee who needs to express breast milk for her infant child and to provide accommodations where an employee can express her milk in private. (HF 5656)
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-64 (1997) prohibits places of public accommodation, resort or amusement from restricting or limiting the right of a mother to breastfeed her child. (1997 Conn. Acts, P.A. 210)
Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 53-34b provides that no person may restrict or limit the right of a mother to breastfeed her child.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA -- D.C. Code Ann. § 2-1402.81 et seq. amend the Human Rights Act of 1977 to include breastfeeding as part of the definition of discrimination on the basis of sex, to ensure a woman's right to breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where she has the right to be with her child. The law provides that breastfeeding is not a violation of indecent exposure laws. The law also specifies that an employer shall provide reasonable daily unpaid break periods, as required by the employee, so that the employee may express breast milk for her child. These break periods shall run concurrently with any break periods that may already be provided to the employee. Requires that an employer make reasonable efforts to provide a sanitary room or other location, other than a bathroom or toilet stall, where an employee can express her breast milk in privacy and security. The location may include a childcare facility in close proximity to the employee's work location. (2007 D.C. Stat., Chap. 17-58; B 133)
HAWAII -- Hawaii Rev. Stat. § 367-3 (1999) requires the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission to collect, assemble and publish data concerning instances of discrimination involving breastfeeding or expressing breast milk in the workplace. The law prohibits employers to forbid an employee from expressing breast milk during any meal period or other break period. (HB 266)
Hawaii Rev. Stat. § 378-2 provides that it is unlawful discriminatory practice for any employer or labor organization to refuse to hire or employ, bar or discharge from employment, withhold pay from, demote or penalize a lactating employee because an employee breastfeeds or expresses milk at the workplace. (2000 Hawaii Sess. Laws, Act 227; HB 2774)
Hawaii Rev. Stat. § 489.21 and § 489-22 provide that it is a discriminatory practice to deny, or attempt to deny, the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodation of a place of public accommodations to a woman because she is breastfeeding a child.
2010 House Concurrent Resolution 158 urges the Department of Human Services and the Department of Health to develop a program to encourage breastfeeding among mothers who receive assistance from Medicaid.
WISCONSIN -- Right to breast-feed. A mother may breast-feed her child in any public or private location where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be. In such a location, no person may prohibit a mother from breast-feeding her child, direct a mother to move to another location to breast-feed her child, direct a mother to cover her child or breast while breast-feeding, or otherwise restrict a mother from breast-feeding. A person who interferes with that right is subject to a forfeiture not to exceed $200 under the general penalty provision under current law.
In a better NC, our law would be as such: N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-190.9 (1993) states that "...Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a woman may breast feed in any public or private location where she is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother's breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breast feeding. It is a discriminatory practice to deny, or attempt to deny, the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodation of a place of public or private accommodations to a woman because she is breastfeeding a child. The law directs the human rights commission to develop and distribute materials that provide information regarding a woman's legal right to breastfeed her child in a place of public accommodation. Requires employers to provide a reasonable amount of time each day to an employee who needs to express breast milk for her infant child up to the age of 3 and to provide accommodations where an employee can express her milk in private if she wishes to be in private and that is not a bathroom stall, and prohibits discrimination against an employee who exercises rights provided under this act. It is unlawful discriminatory practice for any employer or labor organization to refuse to hire or employ, bar or discharge from employment, withhold pay from, demote or penalize a lactating employee because an employee breastfeeds or expresses milk at the workplace. No person may restrict or limit the right of a mother to breastfeed her child. Failure to comply with the law will result in a fine of $200. " (HB 1143)
If we don't make these necessary changes, occurrences such as these will, unfortunately, continue:
Thank you for your time and consideration.
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