Business Owners, Get With the Program: Public Breastfeeding is Legal Everywhere! (Well, Except Idaho.)carolyncastiglia
You hear that, American business owners? STOP KICKING WOMEN OUT OF YOUR ESTABLISHMENTS FOR PUBLIC BREASTFEEDING. We at Babble hear stories every day of women being told to hide in a bathroom or go outside if they want to breastfeed. Within the last two weeks, a mother was asked not to breastfeed in the American Girl store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan and another woman was asked not to breastfeed at a Texas YMCA. (Though I agree with most commenters that said mom should not have been breastfeeding in the Y’s pool. On the deck, totally fine, as a YMCA employee suggested.) Additionally, a woman in Kentucky was asked to leave a Johnny Rockets last week while breastfeeding her 6-month-old.
When I say breastfeeding in public is totally fine, I mean it’s totally fine. Not like I’m totally fine with it (because you all know I myself was actually a little bit squeamish about breastfeeding in public), but like it’s totally, completely, 100% legal for women to breastfeed openly in any public or private space. (Except in Idaho. But more on that in a minute.) So it doesn’t matter how you feel about it, store owners. Your customers’ feelings and your employees’ feelings don’t matter, either. Public breastfeeding is legal: deal with it.
You see, the breastfeeding laws look like this: 45 states and D.C. “have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location.” ANY PUBLIC OR PRIVATE LOCATION, like, say, a Johnny Rockets or a YMCA or an American Girl store. Idaho, Michigan, South Dakota, Virginia and West Virginia don’t have such open breastfeeding laws, but the latter four do have laws that “exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws.” Idaho, unfortunately, is the one state in the U.S. that does not have any breastfeeding laws on the books. But instances like those mentioned in the first paragraph should give Idaho lawmakers incentive to enact laws that protect breastfeeding moms, especially if they want to “actively promote and protect the health and safety of Idaho families through the promotion and support of breastfeeding,” as the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s website indicates. After all, it’s hard to talk the “let’s promote breastfeeding” talk if store owners and employees are going to continue to discourage it.
What should be discouraged across the board is complaining about public breastfeeding. As so many lactivists have said so many times, “If you don’t like it, don’t look.” I admit that seeing a boob in public is sometimes a bit jarring for me, but that’s MY problem, not the feeding mother’s problem. Employees and store owners who kick women out of their establishments for breastfeeding should be fined, since essentially they are breaking the law. What is it going to take for nursing women to get a little respect around here? And in Idaho.
Does choosing not to breastfeed make you a Bad Parent?