• Wed, Feb 21 2007

Texas Incidents Spark Legislative Measures

While breastfeeding protections already exist in Texas, I’m happy to report that revised legislation is in the works. At the end of last year Texas was the site of two controversies over breastfeeding in public. In the first, a mother was asked to leave a Texas movie theater after she refused to cover up. I examined the law in Texas and noted a loophole in the civil Health and Safety Code. If HB 1154 is enacted as introduced, the revised law would read as follows (the new text is shown in italics):

Sec. 165.002. RIGHT TO BREAST-FEED.
(a) A mother is entitled to breast-feed her baby in any location in which the mother is otherwise authorized to be. A mother’s authority to be in a location may not be revoked for the sole reason that she begins to breast-feed.
(b) A person may not interfere with or restrict the right of
a mother to breast-feed in accordance with this section:
(1) in any place held open to the general public; or
(2) in any place owned or operated by an entity:
(A) from which the comptroller collects taxes; or
(B) which holds a license or permit issued by the
comptroller.

The law would also provide for a $250 civil penalty for repeat violations.

The second incident in Texas demonstrated just how much such change is needed in that state. The incident arose when lactivists were harassed by airport security at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport nurse-in at the Delta Airlines counter. No wonder Dallas and Fort Worth hold the distinction of being among the five worst cities in America in which to have a baby. The activists refused to give up and arranged a second and more successful nurse-in.

KVUE news reports that women gathered on the steps of the state capitol today to show support for HB 1154 (introduced by State Representative Jessica Farrar), and HB 703 (introduced by State Representative Mike Villarreal). HB 703 would license lactation consultants. I wonder, is that a good thing–ensuring quality care–or will it reduce the number of lactation consultants and make it more difficult for breastfeeding women to get the help they need?

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