It Has Finally Become Legal To Breastfeed In Public In All 50 States Of America

It Has Finally Become Legal To Breastfeed In Public In All 50 States Of America

Idaho and Utah have recently joined the party, which means that parents in every state of America can finally breastfeed in public.

Over the years, many stories of people who've been asked to leave public places because somebody complained about how they fed their babies have made headlines, which prompted outcry from advocates and provided fodder for debate among the masses.

Before states passing laws, there was little recourse for mothers in such incidents. Breastfeeders could, in fact, be cited and fined for public indecency in case a law enforcement officer responded to a complaint in several situations.

These laws weren't passed without controversy — Utah's almost did not make it past committee.

Utah's Breastfeeding Protection Act passed the House Business and Labor Committee by the narrowest of margins in February 2018, with a 6-5 vote in favor. Sponsored by Rep. Justin Fawson, the bill states that breastfeeding is legal "in any place of public accommodation." Also, the original bill clarified that it did not matter whether the breast was totally covered or uncovered.

It Has Finally Become Legal To Breastfeed In Public In All 50 States Of America

Photo by Ezequiel Becerra/Getty Images.

"I don't feel like we should ever relegate a mom to a restroom to breastfeed their child," Fawson told the local news. "That's a big reason why I'm running the bill. I'm seeking to further normalize breastfeeding and allow moms to feed their babies as needed."

However, others lawmakers took issue with it. Rep. R. Curt Webb, one of the five that voted against the measure, expressed concerns regarding modesty. He said: “But this seems to say you don't have to cover up at all. [I'm] not comfortable with that at all, I'm just not. It's really in your face.”

When language about the breast being uncovered was removed from the bill, it passed in the Utah House of Representatives 66-5.

Breastfeeding parents have worked really hard to get these laws passed through legislatures mainly dominated by cisgender men.

One issue which has long affected the specific legality of breastfeeding in public is really the fact that legislatures have for a long time been dominated by people who do not give birth or breastfeed. Even in 2018, only a quarter of state legislators are women — a percentage which has barely changed in the past 20 years. In fact, Utah's House Business and Labor Committee (the one that narrowly passed the official Breastfeeding Protection Act to present to the House floor) is made up of 11 men and only one woman.

It isn't that cis men cannot pass laws that benefit cis women and folks of other genders who give birth — but when your whole gender historically has not done any breastfeeding, you might be less likely to sympathize with the needs of those that have and still do. Hence the need for decades of appealing to legislators, staging "nurse-ins," and other acts of civic engagement being performed by breastfeeding advocates to provide legal protections to nursing parents and babies.

It Has Finally Become Legal To Breastfeed In Public In All 50 States Of America

Eligia Spinosa breastfeeds her 2-month-old son outside New York's City Hall during a rally to support breastfeeding in public in 2014. Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images.

After all, these laws are only needed because too many people see breastfeeding as something sexual or perverse.
Far too many people conflate feeding a baby with immodesty or exhibitionism. And while there is a lot that can be discussed about breastfeeding in public — you can read responses to common complaints about it here — there are several points that must be rediscussed over and over until the general public internalizes them:

-There is nothing sexual about breastfeeding. Breasts are biologically designed for feeding babies. Yes, they have a sexual function, too — but so do mouths, and nobody complains that people eat with their mouths in public. Two totally different functions that can, and should, be wholly differentiated.

-If you really don't want to see somebody breastfeeding, don't watch. Moving one's eyes just a few millimeters in one direction is really a whole lot easier than keeping a cover over a squirmy breastfeeding baby, and far more desirable than banishing a parent and baby away from people to eat.

-Breastfeeding parents already have enough on their plate. Having a baby is hard. Let's give parents some grace and applaud them for keeping their tiny humans alive in whatever way they deem best — without forcing them to sit on public toilets to do it.

Share image: Timothy Clary/Getty Images.

Reference: Upworthy

It Has Finally Become Legal To Breastfeed In Public In All 50 States Of America It Has Finally Become Legal To Breastfeed In Public In All 50 States Of America Reviewed by Κατερίνα Παπ on 12:12 PM Rating: 5

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