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Public Breast-Feeding Laws

?Breast feeding advocates are attempting to overhaul Georgia's public breast-feeding law following several women’s battles to breast feed their babies in public. Breast-feeding advocates from around the U.S.
have organized “nurse-ins” at five different places in Georgia, including the State Capitol where activists recently met with legislators to ask them to beef-up the state’s public breast-feeding laws so that mothers can nurse their infants anywhere, at anytime.

Every state in the U.S. except West Virginia and Idaho, have existing laws on the books to protect the rights of mothers to nurse their infants in public at malls, schools, libraries, and even churches.
However, only about 10 states actually back up the laws and breast feeding advocates around the country say it is now time to change the law across the country to reflect comprehensive, supportive rules for breast-feeding mothers. Advocates say that every state needs public breast-feeding laws with real enforcement provisions as remedies for violating the laws. Although many women might think they the right to breast-feed anywhere they want, a right without a remedy is not a right, and unless breast feeding laws have real teeth, they are in danger of being ignored.

In Georgia, the proposed legislation will set a fine of up to $1,000 for those who “restrict, harass or penalize a mother who is breastfeeding her child, require a mother to leave the premises, or require a mother to move to a different location on the premises if the mother is otherwise authorized to be in her current location.” The proposed change also includes provisions saying nursing mothers should not have to contend with public indecency laws, and that breast-feeding should not be considered “lewd, indecent, immoral, or unlawful conduct” in any case. The Georgia proposal goes even further in stating that employers will be required to provide a room other than a toilet stall for mothers to use during minimum breaks of 30 minutes for every four hours on the job.

The proposed Georgia legislation has some serious enforcement “teeth”
in that it would label those organizations, businesses and churches that violate the new public breast-feeding protections or fail to meet workplace pumping requirements more than three times in any one year as “habitual violators” and offenders would be subject to a hefty
$10,000 fine that would be utilized for ongoing breast-feeding education in Georgia. The “habitual violators” provision is a first for breast feeding laws in the United States, and should be of interest to all nursing mothers who might be inclined to press for similar changes to the laws in their own areas of the country. As it stands now, it looks like Georgia is at the head of the pack when it come to making real progress in the fight to provide comprehensive, supportive rules for breast-feeding mothers.

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