Lawmakers: Breastfeeding should be protected right
February 16th, 2011
Omaha, NE – Nebraska could soon join the 44 states that protect womenâ€™s rights to breastfeed in any public or private place.
â€œNo woman should be made to feel ashamed or apologetic or threatened, when theyâ€™re simply responding to a basic need of their child,â€ said Senator Annette Dubas of Fullerton, who introduced a bill that would allow a woman to breastfeed her baby freely, anywhere she was authorized to be.
â€œNo one should ever be told to go into a public restroom to feed their baby.â€
While 44 states have laws on the books protecting breastfeeding mothers, only 28 exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws. In Nebraska, breast feeding in public is allowed, but itâ€™s not a protected right. That means a breastfeeding woman can be asked to leave a restaurant or any public space, without legal protection. Senator Russ Karpisek of Wilber supports Dubasâ€™ bill. But he said some constituents had raised concerns that breastfeeding women should make a reasonable attempt to cover up.
â€œDo you think if someone was intentionally doing something, not being discreet,â€ he asked Dubas, â€œthat there would be other laws maybe that would cover that sort of thing?â€
Dubas responded, â€œThese are mothers, who probably have other children, husbands, boyfriends and other things like that in their lives, so the fact that they would be wanting to take off their clothes or do anything like that, Iâ€™m just not thinking itâ€™s there.â€
Dubas said adding language to the bill to define discretion would be too ambiguous. And she said, if there are extreme cases, there are other legal avenues that would cover it. The Legislature gave first round approval to the bill on a vote of 41-0.