A newly proposed law in Seattle could make it illegal to ask a nursing mother there to stop breastfeeding, to cover up or to move to another location. City council member Bruce Harrell, who introduced the law to make breastfeeding a civil right told KING 5 TV, “If we change cultural norms, that people realize it’s important to have a healthy Seattle, that people will breastfeed in public areas, it begins the conversation as to why.” Harrell also points out that a law like this may law help eliminate stigma, and encourage minority moms to breastfeed more, which would be good news since minorities statistically breastfeed less in the U.S. The city’s Office of Women’s Rights have reported that they receive many complaints from nursing mothers about breastfeeding discrimination in the workplace, stores, restaurants and public areas but if passed, the proposed law would mean it’s an act of discrimination to ask a woman to move or leave a location simply because she’s breastfeeding in public. The spirit behind this proposal should be applauded, but not everyone is clapping.
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One Seattle citizen told KING 5 TV that breastfeeding is, “A private issue and I think a parent should probably do it in a private location,” then added, “I think the city council has better things to worry about.” Another Seattle dweller and restaurant owner noted that while he’s fine with women breastfeeding in his restaurant he’s worried about the law affecting his other patrons saying, “I have a problem with the city legislating how I run my business. We want to make a decision for my entire client base, not just one category.” It’s a little depressing, in my opinion that breastfeeding would even need to be made a civil right. Obviously, this case fits in with civil rights, in a way. A civil right defined is basically a right or privilege, which if interfered with by another, allows the person interfered with to take action and claim injury. It’s insane that we’d have to go this far when it comes to feeding babies. What part of “babies need to eat” is America still not getting? In any case, if you agree or not, this isn’t law yet. The council is expected to vote on the ordinance next Monday, April 9.
All images via Flickr User Tim & Selena Middleton