The following concerns breastfeeding legislation in the United States. I encourage anyone who has knowledge of breastfeeding legislation in other countries to node them here as well, or /msg me with links and I'll be happy to add the info.

Federal Legislation

In 1999, the 106th Congress passed H.R. 1848, the Right to Breastfeed Act, which authorizes women to breastfeed their children on federal property anywhere she and her child have the right to be. Three other bills have been introduced, but not passed yet:

  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act Amendment of 1999, (H.R. 1478) - "Clarifies the Pregnancy Discrimination Act to protect breastfeeding under civil rights law, requiring that women cannot be fired or discriminated against in the workplace for expressing breast milk (or directly breastfeeding) during her own lunch time or break time."
  • Breastfeeding Promotion and Employers' Tax Incentive Act of 1999, (H.R. 1163) - "Encourages employers to set up a safe, private, and sanitary environment for women to express (or pump) breast milk by providing a tax credit for employers who set up a lactation location, purchase or rent lactation-related equipment, hire a lactation consultant, or otherwise promote a lactation-friendly environment."
  • Safe and Effective Breastpumps Act, (H.R. 3372) - "Requires the FDA to develop minimum quality standards for breast pumps to ensure that products on the market are safe and effective."

All of the above laws were introduced by Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, D-NY.

State Legislation

Most states have passed some sort of breastfeeding legislation. It is important to note that just because a state doesn't have a law clarifying a woman's right to breastfeed in public doesn't mean that it's illegal. These laws do not make public breastfeeding legal at all; they merely uphold a woman's right to do so, and in some cases impose penalties on those who prevent it. The following states have legislation concerning breastfeeding:

  • Alaska - Passed a bill in 1998 that upholds a woman's right to breastfeed in public. This bill also imposes penalties on municipalities which restrict a woman's right to breastfeed.
  • California - Has several breastfeeding laws. A 1995 law requires all hospitals to either have a lactation consultant on hand or to provide information on where to obtain breastfeeding information. A 1997 law upholds a woman's right to breastfeed anywhere she has a right to be. A 1998 resolution encourages employers to provide safe, sanitary places for women to express breast milk. A 2000 law exempts breastfeeding women from jury duty.
  • Connecticut - A 1998 bill prohibits anyone from restricting a woman's right to breastfeed in public and imposes penalties on those who try to do so. A 2001 law requires employers to make a reasonable effort to provide breastfeeding mothers with a place to express milk which is not a toilet stall.
  • Delaware - A 1997 law clarifies a woman's right to breastfeed in public.
  • Florida - Led the nation by passing the first comprehensive breastfeeding legislation in 1993. This law exempts breastfeeding from criminal statutes and upholds a woman's right to breastfeed in public, even if there is exposure of the breast. A 1994 law encourages employers to make accomodations for breastfeeding women.
  • Georgia - Passed a law clarifying a woman's right to breastfeed in public, as long as she is "discreet." Two bills have been introduced in 2001 to remove the restricting language from the original bill.
  • Hawaii - Two 1999 bills state that it is discrimination to treat breastfeeding women any different than anyone else, both in public and in the workplace. They also impose penalties on those who discriminate against nursing mothers.
  • Idaho - A 1996 law exempts nursing mothers from jury duty.
  • Illinois - A 1995 law states that public breastfeeding is not an act of indecency. Two 1997 laws authorize state programs to provide women with breastfeeding information. A 2001 law requires employers to accomodate the needs of nursing mothers.
  • Iowa - Passed a law in 1994 exempting nursing mothers from jury duty. A 1999 law upholds a woman's right to breastfeed in public.
  • Louisiana - A 2001 bill prohibits discriminating against or segregating against breastfeeding women in public.
  • Maine - A 2001 law upholds a woman's right to breastfeed in public. A 1999 proposal requires courts to take breastfeeding into consideration in custody disputes in which the child is under one year of age.
  • Maryland - In 2001, a bill exempting breastfeeding supplies from the state sales tax was passed.
  • Michigan - Has a law exempting breastfeeding from several criminal statutes, even when the breast or nipple is exposed. Also has a law mandating that breastfeeding be taken into consideration in divorce court.
  • Minnesota - Passed two breastfeeding bills in 1997, one clarifying a woman's right to nurse in public, and another upholding a woman's right to express milk at work.
  • Missouri - Passed a 1997 law requiring hospitals to provide new mothers with information on breastfeeding and offer a lactation consultation. The bill also upholds a woman's right to nurse in public "with as much discretion as possible."
  • Montana - Has a law proclaiming the importance of breastfeeding that includes a section clarifying that women have the right to nurse their children in public, even if part of the breast is exposed.
  • Nevada - Passed a bill in support of breastfeeding which clarifies a woman's right to nurse in public and exempts breastfeeding from criminal statutes.
  • New Hampshire - A bill passed in 1999 proclaims the importance of breastfeeding, notes that a woman has the right to nurse in public, and states that inhibiting a woman's right to do so is discriminatory.
  • New Jersey - Passed a law upholding a woman's right to breastfeed in public, which provides a fine and a penalty for those who restrict this right.
  • New Mexico - Has a law stating simply that a woman has the right to breastfeed in public in any place she is authorized to be.
  • New York - Has some of the most comprehensive and progressive pro-breastfeeding legislation in the U.S. A 1984 law exempts breastfeeding from criminal statutes. Another law allows breastfeeding women who are in prison to have their infants with them up to 12 months of age. In 1994, the State of New York amended its civil rights act to clarify the absolute right to breastfeed.
  • North Carolina - Has a law supporting a woman's right to nurse in public, even if there is exposure of the breast.
  • Oregon - Oregon's two breastfeeding-related laws uphold a woman's right to nurse in public and exempt breastfeeding women from jury duty.
  • Rhode Island - Enacted a law that upholds a woman's right to nurse in public.
  • Tennessee - Has a law mandating that employers accomodate women who breastfeed.
  • Texas - Passed a very comprehensive bill in 1995 that, among other things, supports a woman's right to nurse in public, sets standards for 'mother-friendly' employers to advertise themselves as such if they develop policies in support of breastfeeding, and states the importance of breastfeeding.
  • Utah - Has legislation supporting a woman's right to nurse in public, even if the breast is exposed. Also, the state takes breastfeeding into consideration in family law cases.
  • Vermont - Passed a bill clarifying a woman's right to breastfeed in public.
  • Washington - Has a law exempting breastfeeding and the expression of milk from indecent exposure laws. The same law encourages employers to support lactating women who return to the workplace.
  • Wisconsin - Exempts breastfeeding from criminal statutes.

Note: This information comes from La Leche League International and Rep. Carolyn Maloney's website: http://www.house.gov/maloney/issues/breastfeeding/index.htm.

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