State laws on breastfeeding in public vary, but MOST states have a law that says that wherever a mother can be with her baby, she can breastfeed. While private home owners and certain businesses (not national chains!) can have their own private policies, public places and government-owned buildings are always available.
But up until the passing of a new law, Tennessee toddlers were treated like second-class citizens, because you see ... this is the law until July 1:
68-58-101. Right to breastfeed in any location. — A mother has a right to breastfeed her child who is twelve (12) months of age or younger in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be present.
Toddlers weren't allowed to eat with other people in public ... well, not breastfeed, anyway. The law revision is better, but still not good enough.
On July 1, the age restriction removal goes into effect, thanks to Governor Bill Haslam. But what remains is wondering why it would have been there in the first place, not respecting the AAP's beliefs that nursing should go until a minimum of a year (not only UNTIL), and the LLL, Surgeon General, CDC, and WHO's support of nursing until TWO years old as a minimum. In no situation should breastfeeding your own baby be illegal.
One of the problems even with the bill's revision, and the bill in many states, is a lot of the general public has an issue with women nursing in public. And the most businesses, security guards, or employees get when they go out of their way to make a breastfeeding mom feel like she is doing something wrong is a verbal slap on the wrist telling them that the law says it's okay.
Obviously, despite being protected by law, there's more that needs to be done if we want women to REALLY feel comfortable nursing in public, whether they choose to use a cover or go into a back room or sit right at their table with their shirt lifted up. What good does a law do if it's never enforced and there's no punishment for breaking it?
Come ON. So I'm glad Tennessee stopped discriminating against people who nurse full term, but really, so many of these laws really just give a mom the right to not go to jail, but they don't help support nursing. We need to impose at least a fine or give people some reason to not completely and utterly ignore it entirely.
What do you think should change about the laws to help protect breastfeeding moms' rights?
Image via MelanieLouise/CafeMom