Bill to breast-feed in public sponsored
Rep. Tami Green, D-Lakewood, is sponsoring HB 1596, which would protect a mother's right to breast-feed in public. The measure has the support of House leadership, and has, so far, garnered no opposition.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Melissa Bonghi sees nothing wrong with breast-feeding her baby in public, but she's taken some grief for it. Like the time she was nursing at the edge of an outdoor pool and a lifeguard told her: "You can't breast-feed because there's no food allowed in the pool."
Moms from around the state say they're being discriminated against for breast-feeding and want legislation saying they can legally nurse in public — at theaters, grocery stores, restaurants, even swimming pools.
Rep. Tami Green, D-Lakewood, is sponsoring HB 1596, which would protect a mother's right to breast-feed in public. The measure has the support of House leadership, and has, so far, garnered no opposition. Green said she wants to make sure "infants in our state ... are getting the very best brain food they can get," and she wants women to be comfortable feeding babies wherever they are.
There was no opposition to the measure at a hearing in the State Government & Tribal Affairs committee earlier this week, but the issue surfaces in the news regularly. Last month, for example, the social-networking site Facebook came under fire after it removed photos of breast-feeding on grounds they were obscene.
Facebook said many of the photos were brought to their attention by other users, who found them offensive.
Bonghi testified about the day she was asked to leave the pool. She was sitting on the side, with her feet in the kiddy pool, watching her 6-year-old and nursing her baby.
Chatting with other moms, she was interrupted and asked to leave, because food was not allowed around the pool and "because her breast milk would contaminate the pool."
Kerri Christie, a new mom from Poulsbo, testified most mothers don't feel at ease breast-feeding in public.
"Unfortunately the general public feels this is inappropriate," she said, "because there is nothing in our law that says it's appropriate to feed one's baby wherever you go."
If the bill passes, Christie is hopeful opinions will change. "Knowing that we aren't on the brink of being thrown out, that we can say we have the right to feed our child, I see that as very important," she said.
Rep. Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam, said HB 1596 is a great piece of legislation because it encourages women to choose the healthiest and most natural form of feeding for their children. Her response to the people who think that breast-feeding in public is obscene: "Grow up."
Chantal Anderson: 360-236-8169 or email@example.com
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