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Wednesday, July 04, 2007The breastfeeding legislation working its way through Pennsylvania went before the full House for a vote yesterday was passed unanimously.
Usually, that would be something worth celebrating. Unfortunately, the PA bill was stripped of any real power by the Rep that introduced it and the version that went up for a vote failed to include a proposed amendment that would have given it some teeth.
Since the governor has already promised to sign it, the bill is expected to become law.
The full text of SB 34 is as follows:
WHEREAS, There are benefits to the child, the mother and society by encouraging and enabling mothers to breastfeed their children; and WHEREAS, An infant who is breastfed receives protection against infection, illness and allergies, and long-term positive effects on the development, intelligence and health of breastfed children have been found; and
WHEREAS, A protective effect against various types of cancer and greater emotional and physical health are found for mothers who breastfeed; and
WHEREAS, Breastfeeding promotes sufficient birth spacing, improved vaccine effectiveness and decreased food and medical expenses, which all have positive societal effects; and
WHEREAS, The Pennsylvania Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) promotes breastfeeding education and support; and
WHEREAS, Legislation to clarify the right to breastfeed is necessary to promote breastfeeding and remove any stumbling block from influencing a mother's decision to breastfeed or continue breastfeeding.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the Freedom to Breastfeed Act.
Section 2. Declaration of policy.
The General Assembly finds that breastfeeding a baby is an important and basic act of nurturing that must be protected in the interests of maternal and child health and family values.
Section 3. General rule.
A mother shall be permitted to breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be present, irrespective of whether or not the mother's breast is covered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.
Right 4. freedom to breastfeed.
The act of breastfeeding shall not be considered:
(1) Indecent exposure as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 3127 (relating to indecent exposure).
(2) Open lewdness as defined in 18 Pa.C. Section 5901
(relating to open lewdness).
(3) Obscenity or sexual conduct as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 5903 (relating to obscene and other sexual materials and performances).
(4) A nuisance as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 6504 (relating
to public nuisances).
Section 10. Effective date.
This act shall take effect immediately.
Birth Without Boundaries' Jake Marcus, a lawyer who was one of the women working hard on this bill, explains the impact (or lack of impact) made by the bill this way.
...this law does not change the right of the owner of a public accommodation, a store or restaurant, to withdraw a woman's authorization to be there. If he does that, she can be arrested for trespass.
As before, women who are harassed should be sure they are being asked to leave by the owner or person in the highest level of management in a space because only that person can withdraw her right to be there. A waitress or store clerk is not authorized to turn a woman into a trespasser. Police can only arrest for trespass if instructed to do so by the owner of the space.