Breastfeeding in public is now legal in all 50 U.S. states, thanks to new laws protecting the right of mothers to do so.
Recently passed legislation in two states — Utah and Idaho — means that women will now be able to nurse their children in any state across America without worrying about breaking the law. It’s about time, 2018!
In most of the country, women are able to breastfeed in any public place without covering up. So in that vein, the initial legislation lawmakers in Utah were hoping to pass read thusly: “A woman may breastfeed in any place of public accommodation, irrespective of whether the woman’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breast-feeding."
Unfortunately, some politicians in the state weren’t comfortable with the wording, claiming it could lead to “immodest behavior.” (In other words, a woman’s breast might be exposed. Someone pass the smelling salts!)
“This seems to say you don’t have to cover up at all,” Rep. Curt Webb, R-Logan, said during a hearing. “I’m not comfortable with that, I’m just not. It’s really in your face.” Eventually, the bill was passed with a vote of 66-5, with the second part of the statement removed.
In Idaho, the bill to protect breastfeeding moms from indecent exposure and obscenity laws passed unanimously. However, it doesn’t outright state that women have the right to breastfeed in public, just that they’re not committing a crime by doing so. Baby steps, right?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for most infants and is also beneficial in reducing risk for a number of short- and long-term health conditions for both mother and child. And the majority of women do attempt to breastfeed, with the health organization estimating that 81.9 percent of infants are breastfed at some point.
Celebrities have been influential in opening up the conversation about breastfeeding in recent years. While stars like Chrissy Teigen, Blake Lively and Liv Tyler have done their part to normalize it by sharing personal photos on social media, others, such as Khloe Kardashian, have brought attention to the fact that it’s not OK to shame a woman if she chooses, for whatever reason, not to breastfeed.
No matter what a mother decides is right for her and her child, her choice should be respected. And with the passing of Idaho and Utah’s legislation, if she does need to nurse her baby in public, at least now the law is on her side!