Breastfeeding in the USA

Posted on April 10, 2012

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Breastfeeding Laws in the USA

  • Forty-five states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location.
  • Twenty-eight states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws.
  • Five states and Puerto Rico have implemented or encouraged the development of a breastfeeding awareness education campaign.

Alabama

Breastfeeding children in public or private locations.

A mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be present.

Act 2006-526, p. 1222, §1.

Alaska

A woman may breastfeed her child in any location where the woman and chid are otherwise authorized to be.

In 1998, Alaska enacted legislation that clarifies a woman breastfeeding a child in public is not a violation of their criminal statutes. Nor is it considered “Indecent Conduct”. Moreover, the law also prohibits any municipality from enacting a law that prohibits or restricts the right of a mother to breastfeed.

Alaska Stat. § 01.10.060(b), § 29.25.080

Arizona

A mother is entitled to breast-feed in any area of a public place or a place of public accommodation where the mother is otherwise lawfully present.

A.R.S. § 41-1443

Arkansas
A woman is not in violation of this section [Indecent Exposure] for breastfeeding a child in a public place or any place where other individuals are present.

A.C.A. § 5-14-112

California

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, except the private home or residence of another, where the mother and the child are otherwise authorized to be present.

California Civil Code § 43-53

 

Colorado
A mother may breastfeed in any place she has a right to be.

SENATE BILL 04-088

Connecticut

(a) It shall be a discriminatory practice in violation of this section … (3) for a place of public accommodation, resort or amusement to restrict or limit the right of a mother to breast-feed her child; … (c) Any person who violates any provision of this section shall be fined not less than twenty-five nor more than one hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days or both.

§ 53-34b. Deprivation of the right to breast-feed one’s child.
No person may restrict or limit the right of a mother to breast-feed her child.

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-40w

Delaware
Notwithstanding any provisions of law to the contrary, a mother shall be entitled to breast-feed her child in any location of a place of public accommodation wherein the mother is otherwise permitted.

Del. Code Ann. tit. 31 § 310

District of Columbia

A woman shall have the right to breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where she has the right to be with her child, without respect to whether the mother’s breast or any part of it is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding of her child.

D.C. law (DC Code § 2-1402.81 et seq.,)

Florida

A mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public
or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be,
irrespective of whether or not the nipple of the mother’s
breast is covered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.

House bill no. HB 231 Fl. ALS 4; 1993 Fla. Laws ch. 4; 1993 Fla. HB 231
Fla. Stat. § 383.015, § 800.02 – 800.04, § 847.001 (later: § 827.071)

Georgia

A mother may breast-feed her baby in any location where the mother and baby are otherwise authorized to be.

Ga. Code Ann. § 31-1-9

Hawaii

it is a discriminatory practice to deny, or attempt to deny, the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodation of a place of public accommodations to a woman because she is breastfeeding a child.  A person injured by an unlawful discriminatory practice may bring a private cause of action and provides appropriate remedies.

Hawaii Revised Statute §489.21 and §489.22.

Idaho
This state does not protect a mother’s right to nurse her child in public.

Illinois
A mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be. A mother who breastfeeds her child in a place of worship shall follow the appropriate norms within that place of worship. Section 15 provides that a woman denied the right to breastfeed by the owner or manager of a public or private location, other than a private residence or place of worship, may bring an action to enjoin future denials of the right to breastfeed. If the woman prevails in her suit, she shall be awarded reasonable attorney’s fees and reasonable litigation expenses.  Breastfeeding is not an act of Public Indecency.

Ill. P.A. 93-942 (2004)22

 

Indiana
A woman can breastfeed her child anywhere the law allows her to be.

Ind. Code § 16-35-6

Iowa
A woman may breastfeed the woman’s own child in any public place where the woman’s presence is otherwise authorized.

Iowa Code § 135.30A

Kansas

A mother may breastfeed in any place she has a right to be.

Kan. Stat. Ann. § 65-1,248

Kentucky

A mother can breastfeed her baby or express breast milk in any public or private location. Requires that breastfeeding may not be considered an act of public indecency, indecent exposure, sexual conduct, lewd touching or obscenity. Prohibits a municipality from enacting an ordinance that prohibits or restricts breastfeeding in a public or private place.

Ky. Rev. Stat. § 211-755

Louisiana

A mother may breastfeed her baby in any place of public accommodation, resort, or amusement, and clarifies that breastfeeding is not a violation of law, including obscenity laws.

La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 51. 2247.1

Maine

TheMaine Human Rights Act declares that a mother has the right to breastfeed her baby in any location, whether public or private, as long as she is otherwise authorized to be in that location.

Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 5, § 4634

Maryland

Awoman can breastfeed her infant in any public or private place and prohibits anyone from restricting or limiting this right.

Md. Health-General Code Ann. § 20-801

Massachusetts
A mother can breastfeed her child in any public place or establishment or place which is open to and accepts or solicits the patronage of the general public and where the mother and her child may otherwise lawfully be present.  The law also specifies that the act of a mother breastfeeding her child shall not be considered lewd, indecent, immoral or unlawful conduct and provides for a civil action by a mother subjected to a violation of this law.

Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 111 § 221

Michigan

Public nudity laws do not apply to a woman’s breastfeeding of a baby whether or not the nipple or areola is exposed during or incidental to the feeding.

Mich. Comp. Laws § 41.181

Minnesota

A mother may breastfeed in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.  It is not considered Indecent Exposure.

 

Minn. Stat. § 145.905

 

Mississippi

Prohibits any ordinance restricting a woman’s right to breastfeed and provides that a mother may breastfeed her child in any location she is otherwise authorized to be. The act of breastfeeding shall not constitute indecent exposure. The act of breastfeeding shall not constitute disorderly conduct.

Miss. Code Ann. § 17-25-7/9

 

Missouri

Allows a mother, with as much discretion as possible, to breastfeed her child in any public or private location.

Mo. Rev. Stat. § 191.918

Montana

The breastfeeding of a child in any location, public or private, where the mother otherwise has a right to be is legal and cannot be considered a nuisance, indecent exposure, sexual conduct, or obscenity.

Mont. Code Ann. § 50-19-501

Nebraska
A mother may breastfeed her child in any public or private location where the mother is otherwise authorized to be.

2011 Neb. Laws, L.B. 197

Nevada

The breastfeeding of a child in any location, public or private, is not considered a violation of indecent exposure laws.

Nev. Rev. Stat. § 201.232, § 201.210, and § 201.220

New Hampshire
Breastfeeding does not constitute indecent exposure and that limiting or restricting a mother’s right to breastfeed is discriminatory.

N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 132:10-d

New Jersey

Entitles a mother to breastfeed her baby in any location of a place of public accommodation, resort or amusement wherein the mother is otherwise permitted. Failure to comply with the law may result in a fine.

N.J. Rev. Stat. § 26:4B-4/5

New Mexico

Permits a mother to breastfeed her child in any public or private location where she is otherwise authorized to be.

N.M. Stat. Ann. § 28-20-1

New York

Permits a mother to breastfeed her child in any public or private location.  Excludes breastfeeding of infants from exposure offenses.

Allows a mother of a nursing child to be accompanied by her child if she is committed to a correctional facility at the time she is breastfeeding. This law also permits a child born to a committed mother to return with the mother to the correctional facility.The child may remain with the mother until one year of age if the woman is physically capable for caring for the child.

N.Y. Civil Rights Law § 79-e  N.Y. Correction Law § 611

North Carolina
A woman is allowed to breastfeed in any public or private location, and that she is not in violation of indecent exposure laws.

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-190.9

North Dakota
Exempts the act of a woman discreetly breastfeeding her child from indecent exposure laws.  Allows a woman to breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the woman and child are otherwise authorized to be.

N.D. Cent. Code § 12.1-20-12.1 N.D. Cent. Code § 23-12-16

Ohio

Provides that a mother is entitled to breastfeed her baby in any location of a place of public accommodation wherein the mother is otherwise permitted.

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3781.55

Oklahoma

Provides legislative recognition that breastfeeding is a basic right and that a mother may breastfeed her baby in any location where they are otherwise authorized to be. Breastfeeding is exempted from the crimes and punishments listed in the penal code.

Okla. Stat. tit. 63, § 1-234

Oregon

Allows a woman to breastfeed in a public place.

Or. Rev. Stat. § 109.001

Pennsylvania

Allows mothers to breastfeed in public without penalty. Breastfeeding may not be considered a nuisance, obscenity or indecent exposure under this law.

Pa. Cons. Stat. tit. 35 § 636.1 et seq.

Puerto Rico

Directs the Regulations and Permits Administration to adopt regulations, which shall provide that in shopping malls, airports, ports and public service government centers there shall be accessible areas designed for breastfeeding and diaper changing that are not bathrooms.

23 L.P.R.A. § 43-1

Rhode Island

R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-13.5-1 and § 23-13.5-2 (2008)   allow a woman to feed her child by bottle or breast in any place open to the public and would allow her a private cause of action for denial of this right.

Specifies that indecent exposure-disorderly conduct laws do not apply to breastfeeding in public.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-45-2 R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-13.5-1 and § 23-13.5-2

South Carolina

Provides that a woman may breastfeed her child in any location where the mother is authorized to be and that the act of breastfeeding is not considered indecent exposure.

S.C. Code Ann. § 63-5-40

South Dakota

Exempt mothers who are breastfeeding from indecency laws.

S.D. Codified Laws Ann. § 22-22-24.1 and § 22-24A-2

Tennessee

Permits a mother to breastfeed in any location, public or private, that the mother is authorized to be, and prohibits local governments from criminalizing or restricting breastfeeding.  Specifies that the act of breastfeeding shall not be considered public indecency as defined by § 39-13-511; or nudity, obscene, or sexual conduct.

Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-58-101 et seq.

Texas

Authorizes a woman to breastfeed her child in any location.

Tex. Health Code Ann. § 165.002

U.S. Virgin Islands

Specifies that a woman breastfeeding a child in any public or private location where the woman’s presence is otherwise authorized does not under any circumstance constitute obscene or indecent conduct.

14 V.I.C. § 1022

Utah

States that city and county governing bodies may not inhibit a woman’s right to breastfeed in public.  States that a breastfeeding woman, covered or uncovered is not in violation of any obscene or indecent exposure laws.

Utah Code Ann. § 17-15-25 Utah Code Ann. § 76-10-1229.5

 

Vermont

State that breastfeeding should be encouraged in the interest of enhancing maternal, child and family health. The law provides that a mother may breastfeed her child in any place of public accommodation in which the mother and child would otherwise have a legal right to be. The law directs the human rights commission to develop and distribute materials that provide information regarding a woman’s legal right to breastfeed her child in a place of public accommodation.

Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 9, § 4502 (j)  2002 Vt. Acts, Act 117

Virginia

Guarantees a woman the right to breastfeed her child on any property owned, leased or controlled by the state. The bill also stipulates that childbirth and related medical conditions specified in the Virginia Human Rights Act include activities of lactation, including breastfeeding and expression of milk by a mother for her child.  Exempts mothers engaged in breastfeeding from indecent exposure laws.

Va. Code § 2.2-1147.1 Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-387

Washington

States that the act of breastfeeding or expressing breast milk is not indecent exposure.  Provides that it is the right of a mother to breastfeed her child in any place of public resort, accommodations, assemblage or amusement. States that it is an unfair practice for any person to discriminate against a mother breastfeeding her child in any place of public resort, accommodations, assemblage or amusement.

Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.88.010 Wash. Rev. Code § 49.60.30(g) Wash. Rev. Code § 49.60.215

West Virginia

West Virginia has no laws protecting breastfeeding.

Wisconsin

Provide that breastfeeding mothers are not in violation of criminal statutes of indecent or obscene exposure.  Provides that a mother may breastfeed her child in any public or private location where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be. The law specifies that in such a location, no person may prohibit a mother from breastfeeding her child, direct a mother to move to a different location to breastfeed her child, direct a mother to cover her child or breast while breastfeeding, or otherwise restrict a mother from breastfeeding her child.

Wis. Stat. § 944.17(3)§ 944.20(2)  § 948.10(2)(b) 2009 Wis. Laws, Act 148

Wyoming

Exempts breastfeeding mothers from public indecency laws and gives breastfeeding women the right to nurse anyplace that they otherwise have a right to be.

Wyo. Stat. § 6-4-201

 

 

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