Did you know that up until recently, and we mean VERY recently, it wasn't legal to breastfeed in public in all 50 states? Yes, you read that right: public breastfeeding was still illegal in two states to breastfeed in public. Women who did so were still subject to possible legal ramifications, for violating obscenity and indecent exposure laws. Let's all try to remember that it is 2018! Thankfully, the last two states to remain in the dark ages finally saw the light. Idaho and Utah both passed legislation that protects a woman's right to breastfeed her child in public. Because feeding babies is certainly something that needs to be regulated and legislated, right?
Idaho first introduced the legislation back in February, but it didn't take effect until June. Republican Rep. Paul Amador is the father of a 5-month-old, and was responsible for introducing the legislation. It passed the House unanimously, with a vote of 66-0. Amador expressed disappointment that it took until 2018 for legislation to be introduced, saying, "I think we can take a proactive stance here through legislation to promote the natural bond and health benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child. I also believe the health and nutritional choices of our families are best left as decisions for our families, not our government." The new law doesn't explicitly state that women have the right to breastfeed in public, but it does protect them obscenity and indecent exposure laws.
Utah also introduced legislation back in February, and it was recently clarified some aspects to allow women to breastfeed in public throughout the state. The Utah bill, however, did not pass unanimously, if you can believe it. The House Business and Labor Committee passed with a vote of 6-5. Republican Rep. R. Curt Webb was on the committee, and said he believes there should be a provision in law that requires breastfeeding mothers to exercise some modesty when they feed their babies in public. In an interview with a radio station, he said he wasn't comfortable with the fact that they could nurse their babies without covering up at all. Oh, the humanity! So sorry to make you uncomfortable, Rep. Webb.
A group of women got wind of Webb's comments and showed up at the hearing. One mom said she had never been in a public restroom that was fit to feed a child in, and we couldn't agree more!
Sadly, the Utah bill was only passed after a portion of the bill that said mothers did not need to cover-up while nursing was removed. It's just such a sad state of affairs when we're debating and legislating feeding babies! At least the law passed though, and hopefully, we're well on our way to breastfeeding in public being just a normal part of life.