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City of Seattle

April 4, 3:30 PM click here to comment > 6

Bill protecting breastfeeding women headed to Council

Today the City Council is hearing testimony on a bill that would allow the City to protect the right of women to breastfeed in public places.

Since 2009, state law has protected women’s right to breastfeed their children in public places such as parks, buses, restaurants, and shopping centers. Unfortunately, this law is not always respected. We’ve heard from women who have tried to exercise their right to breastfeed and have been told they could not do so – some have been asked to leave a public place, or been told to go to an unsanitary location.

The state does not have the resources they need to enforce this law. Women don’t have a good place to go to ensure their rights are respected and that the law is enforced. So we’re stepping in to help. With this ordinance, the Seattle Office of Civil Rights will have the power to enforce the rules protecting a woman’s right to breastfeed in public.

This is an issue with far-reaching implications. Not only is this an issue of women’s civil rights, it touches on the health of everyone in our community. The Surgeon General has reported that breastfeeding for the first six months of a child’s life is one of the best things we can do to ensure that our kids grow up healthy and strong, but only 13% of babies in the U.S. are exclusively breastfed at the end of six months. Rates of breastfeeding are significantly lower in low-income households and communities of color, in part because of the discrimination and harassment faced by many mothers who breastfeed in public.

A coalition of women supporting the bill visited our office today on their way to testify to the City Council. They spoke about their experiences as advocates for breastfeeding, about the public health benefits of the bill and about what we can all do to support and protect the rights of women in our community who choose to breastfeed.

Thank you to the Seattle Women’s Commission, the King County Breastfeeding Coalition, Open Arms Perinatal Services and the Native American Breastfeeding Coalition for all your hard work to protect the rights of all women in our community.

Posted by: Words: April Thomas, Pictures: Jen Nance


Comment from kim
Time April 5, 2012 at 12:58 pm

“The state does not have the resources they need to enforce this law.”

and this city does? we should be spending money on our schools, not time on this law that’s already on the books statewide. pure pork politics!

Comment from Patricia Lutz
Time April 5, 2012 at 12:58 pm

No wonder people think that there’s too much government in our lives – this is a good case. Government shouldn’t try to micromanage our lives. Please don’t spend precious resources trying to pass and enforce a law to protect breastfeeding women. This is not a serious health or safety issue. Most women who breastfeed/breastfed, myself included, had no issues. There are way too many other important issues to spend our resources on.

Comment from Charlie T.
Time April 5, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Breast feeding is not the issue. The double standard is.
If a man can bare his chest in oublic, a woman should have the same right!

Comment from John van Amerongen
Time April 5, 2012 at 3:34 pm

“The state does not have the resources they need to enforce this law.”

So now the City is going to write and enforce an new ordinance that makes it illegal to ask somebody not to do something one considers inappropriate.

Regardless of the issue, this is a slippery slope. If I ask somebody not to smoke pot in the park next to my kids, is that going to be illegal next because the City supports dope smokers and HempFest?

The City already supports enough nonsense without writing new ordinances making it illegal to object to public breast-feeding.

This is a free-speech issue and it’s not worth the lawsuit. You could build another bike lane for what this is going to cost you.

Comment from Tyra Sorensen
Time April 5, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Thank you for standing up for this. Breast feeding does so much good and gives babies such a great start that nothing should impair it.

Comment from John B
Time April 9, 2012 at 7:11 am

Please do not spend any resources on this issue. If all women who breastfeed in public would just be discreet about it, there would be no issues. It is those Women who insist in ‘whipping it out’ and feeding their Child that are the cause of any issue. Why spend money to “Protect” the minority?
I’m all for breastfeeding in public, just keep it covered.