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California Working on New Bill to Support Breastfeeding

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

California is already pretty far ahead of the game in terms of breastfeeding legislation, but they're working on some more.

The current laws in California already provide:

1.) Exclusion from jury duty during the first year that a mother breast feeds
2.) Governs processing of milk by milk banks
3.) Encourages businesses to provide accommodations for mothers that need to express milk
4.) Protects a mother's right to nurse in public (and many private) locations
5.) Proclaims breastfeeding awareness week
6.) Promotes breastfeeding as a public service and requires hospitals to supply LCs
7.) Require businesses to provide a break and location for pumping

Even with all of that already in place, the California Senate Health Committee passed a new measure this week. The bill now moves to the Senate Appropriations in April.

Senate Bill 22, which was introduced by Senator Carole Migden, is designed to promote breastfeeding among low-income women and to provide training to hospitals that currently have low breastfeeding rates.

"Though breastfeeding is a proven disease and obesity prevention strategy, only 40 percent of new mothers leave the hospital breastfeeding exclusively," said Migden.

According to a press release from Sen Migden's office, the bill:

* It expands the number of WIC sites in our state so that more peer counselors are available to provide culturally appropriate education and support services to needy mothers.

* It streamlines reimbursement and access to breast pump rentals and other assistance under Medi-Cal.

* It provides training to hospitals with low breastfeeding rates so that more women of all incomes are breastfeeding the first 48 hours after birth.

California readers are encouraged to contact their senators to encourage a positive vote on this measure.

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  1. Anonymous Emily C | 8:35 AM |  

    Jennifer, I'm confused about my rights to breastfeed in public in my state (Nebraska). I know we have a law about exeption from jury duty, but that's the only law that I know of here. Does that mean I'm not protected by law to breastfeed in public places?

  2. Blogger Jennifer | 12:57 PM |  

    Breastfeeding in public is legal in all 50 states. The only way it can be illegal is if a state has a law stating that it is illegal to breastfeed in public.

    The difference between Nebraska and a state like California is that there is no "express written support" for breastfeeding in public.

    So while it's not illegal, it's also not explicitly legal.

    That means that if you were in public and someone approached you and asked you to stop, you could say "It is not illegal for me to breastfeed in public." (But you couldn't say "breastfeeding in public is my PROTECTED right.")

    Does that make sense?

    Basically, you have the right to go out and breastfeed anywhere you want. Unfortunately, someone COULD say something to you and if the police were called, it would be at their discretion what to do. I have no doubt that you could win a court battle if you were arrested, but you do have less "protection" than moms in other states.

    Do you know if anyone is working on lobbying for new legislation in your state? Maybe consider taking up the cause?

  3. Anonymous Emily C | 7:46 AM |  

    I have contacted a state senator but she has yet to respond. I'll let you know if I hear anything.

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