A Mother’s Right: New Virginia Law Allows Public Breastfeeding

February 23, 2015  |  

Moms in Virginia can choose to accept the stares from on-looking patrons while they breastfeed with no remorse -it is no longer illegal. A new bill recently passed makes Virginia number 48 on the list of states where mothers are protected by the law. But don’t be so quick to prep your baby’s meal at the local coffee shop. This bill covers places owned by the state, not privately owned businesses. We are still waiting for South Dakota and Idaho to play catch up!

The Huffington Post shares more on the new bill:

After a new bill passed in both the state Senate and House of Delegates this month, Virginia is set to become the 48th state that legally protects mothers’ rights to breastfeed in public, wherever and whenever they choose.

Current law in the state permits women to nurse their babies on any spaces owned by the Commonwealth of Virginia, but it does not protect their right to breastfeed in a privately owned public location, such as a clothing store, coffee shop or gym. The new legislation, which passed with unanimous bipartisan support in both the Virginia House of Delegates and the Senate, will go into effect in July 2015, pending a signature from Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D). The governor has already expressed his support, The Washington Post reports.

Spearheading the effort to pass the bill were mothers Kate Noon, Crystal McCullough and Rebecca Geller, along with sponsors Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D) and Del. Dave Albo (R). In an interview with breastfeeding advocate and photographer Vanessa Simmons for Normalize Breastfeeding, Geller explained the significance of changing Virginia’s policy. “Each mother should be able to make a decision about what’s right for her child, and it is important that the law respects a mom’s choices in feeding a child,” she said.

McCullough told Simmons, “Without [this bill], women can be harassed and discriminated while children are denied the basic necessity of eating to survive. This bill will empower women.”

The only other states that don’t protect mothers’ rights to breastfeed in public are Idaho and South Dakota, where it is legal for business owners to tell breastfeeding women to leave their establishments.

Hopefully, news of Virginia’s new law will compel mothers and legislators in those states to introduce similar bills. As Noon told Simmons, “This is a commonsense law and we are lagging behind.”

Head over to the Huffington Post to see photos from the bill’s journey through the Virginia Senate and House of Delegate where mothers breastfed their infants in the courtroom and on the capital steps.

 

Mamas, should this law be in place whether the business is privately owned or not?

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