Local law protects breastfeeding mothers

In all the years that I was nursing my 4 children I was lucky enough to only get positive comments from people that noticed us. Many mothers aren’t so fortunate. I know so many women that have been criticized or asked to leave public locations when they take the time to nurse their babies. One of my friends was scolded in a health food store (?!) when she nursed her crying baby – surely a place where everyone would know this was the very best food for babies…

The Dane County Board passed a law last night (1/5/07) to protect mothers that are breastfeeding in public. (Local news ) The law states that “No person shall interfere with a mother breastfeeding her child or expressing breast milk within any public accommodation where the mother would otherwise be authorized to be.” Penalties would be the same as for disorderly conduct, typically a fine between $10 and $100. Unfortunately this law only applies public places under county jurisdiction, such as the airport, the zoo or unincorporated communities and rural areas. A similar law may be coming up for consideration at the Madison City Council that would protect mothers in Madison. You can write to Alderman Austin King who will be proposing the ordinance for Madison. You can send
him email at district8@cityofmadison.com and find your local alderperson to
write to or email. Note that this law protects pumping mothers as well as nursing mothers. Hopefully this means that women that are separated from their babies won’t feel like they have to pump in the bathroom!

Several people that have been long-term supporters of breastfeeding in Madison testified at the hearing: Dr. Anne Eglash provides medical support to local nursing mothers as well as helping found the Mothers Milk Association of Wisconsin. Anne Altshuler and Sue Morrison are both IBCLC’s and LLL leaders (Anne just gone on reserve as a LLL leader – we appreciate everything she’s done and are glad she’s still available as a resource). Dane County Supervisor Carousel Bayrd that proposed the law is a nursing mother.

If you want to find out more about laws that protect breastfeeding mothers, La Leche League International has a state by state summary. You can also look up information at the National Conference of State Legislatures website.

I want to thank one of our local LLL leaders for sharing with me the information that she has gathered about our local legislation. Thank you, Laurel!

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