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Friday, January 06, 2006Three cheers for Rep. Linda Lopez (D-Tucson)! Lopez announced legislation yesterday that would exempt breastfeeding mothers from current laws making it illegal to expose a nipple in public.
The current law does not exempt nursing mothers and theoretically means that a mother that accidentally flashed some nipple could face up to six months in jail. (A year if it happens amidst minors.) The move follows local laws that have been enacted in several Arizona cities (like Tempe and Chandler) to protect mothers that wish to breastfeed in public.
"I believe that breast-feeding an infant is not an act of indecent exposure," Lopez is quoted as saying in the Arizona Daily Star. Lopez went on to say "It's too bad that our culture has sexualized a woman’s breast, something that has been used for nursing infants since time immemorial."
House Bill 2121 would add the following text to the current indecency laws:
B. Indecent exposure does not include an act of breast-feeding an infant.
The bill also adds the following text to provide an exemption from jury duty for breastfeeding mothers:
6. The prospective juror is breast-feeding an infant. The prospective juror does not need to physically appear in court to request to be excused. The prospective juror shall be excused for one year and, at the end of the one year period, the prospective juror may be further excused on written request.
Finally, a section of text also aims to give working mothers more protection when it comes to the need to express breast milk while working. The text reads as follows:
A. An employer shall provide a reasonable unpaid break time each day to an employee who needs to express breast milk for her infant child. If possible, the break time must run concurrently with any break time that is already provided to the employee. An employer is not required to provide a break time under this subsection if doing so would unduly disrupt the employer's operations.
B. An employer shall make reasonable efforts to provide a room or other location in close proximity to the work area, other than a toilet stall, where an employee can express breast milk for her infant child in privacy.
This is great news for Arizona moms! I would encourage all Arizona mothers to look up their own representatives and drop them a note encouraging them to support the bill.