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Thursday, February 23, 2006Wow, let's hear it for the "K" states! Senate Bill 106, sponsored by Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville specifically states that a mother will have the right to breastfeed or express her breastmilk in any location, public or private. It also exempts breastfeeding from being considered an act of indecency.
The full text of the bill is available on the Kentucky legislature web site. It reads:
Create a new section of KRS Chapter 211 to permit a mother to breastfeed her baby or express breastmilk in any location, public or private; require that breastfeeding may not be considered an act of public indecency, indecent exposure, sexual conduct, lewd touching, or obscenity; prohibit a municipality from enacting an ordinance that prohibits or restricts breastfeeding in a public or private location; exclude breastfeeding from the definition of indecent exposure, sexual conduct, lewd touching, obscenity, and similar terms; prohibit interference with a mother breastfeeding her child in any public or private location.
What's interesting to note is that the bill, which sailed through the Senate and is on its way to the House, is facing opposition from the Kentucky School Board Association of all places. The Lexington Herald-Leader has an article today that talks about the board's fear of the bill's impact on the classroom.
I find this interesting. Partly, because I think anything that encourages teenagers to breastfeed is important, but also because part of me can see their point. While I do think that it would be an excellent example for more teenagers to see a mom breastfeeding, I'm also not sure that the effect of a situation like this would be totally positive. First off, should teenage girls be nursing in class when they're supposed to be paying attention and learning. Secondly, are teenage boys responsible enough to not make a big deal out of. I'm just not sure. Thus, I'm torn on the issue. What I'd like to see is high schools adopting policies like work-places do, that allow a mom to have time to express milk for her baby during a lunch period or a study period.
I think it really boils down to this whole language of the bill thing. As I've noted before, I worry about the wording of "anywhere a mother is otherwise authorized to be." I can enter a bar, but my daughter, who is under 21 cannot. Am I allowed to breastfeed there? I can be in a commercial kitchen, but my daughter can't. Can I breastfeed there? My concern is that we may see challenges mounted to the bill because of this wording and I'm really not sure where a judge would come down on the issue. Part of me wonders if we would protect our rights more if the wording of these bills said that a mother had the right to breastfeed her child in any location that the mother and the child had the right to be.
What do you think? Am I nitpicking over something that's unlikely to happen, or is this a potential battle that we're going to face down the road. Should a teenager be able to nurse her child in the classroom, or should schools adopt policies similar to the workplace so that moms are encouraged to breastfeed, but class isn't disrupted. Would these bills be stronger if they had language like I suggest, or are they stronger with their current wording?
And can I get a "woo hoo!" for the fact that so many states are now pushing through legislation like this! What a great couple of months this has been for the breastfeeding cause!