While breastfeeding is (of course) legal all over the United States, mothers are still sometimes harassed for nursing in public. There are lots of things we can do to try to change this. One approach is to protect mothers with laws. In Madison and Dane county we have ordinances that do this. Senate Bill 16 is a bill that would provide this protection to mothers throughout Wisconsin. Here is the Legislative Reference Bureau’s summary of the bill;
Under current law, there are various prohibitions against lewd behavior or sexual gratification in public. Those prohibitions, however, do not apply to a mother’s breast-feeding of her child. This bill permits a mother to breast-feed her child in any public or private location where she is otherwise authorized to be and prohibits any person from interfering with the right of a mother to breast-feed her child as provided in the bill. Because no penalty is expressed in the bill for interfering with that right, a person who interferes with that right is subject to a forfeiture not to exceed $200 under the general penalty provision under current law.
This bill has moved out of committee and will be scheduled for voting on the Senate floor. There are still more steps before this can become a law. If you want to show your support for the Assembly’s version, let your representatives know. If you want more details, drop me an email and I’ll send you the most current information that I have.
As a note, protection of breastfeeding is way more complicated than just passing a law. If you have any interest in this at all, it’s well worth reading Jake Marcus’s article in Mothering Magazine, Lactation and the Law. If you want current information on breastfeeding and the law, check out LLLI’s legal page.