• Sun, Jun 14 2009

Breastfeeding Promotion Act Support Letter

The Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009 was introduced on June 11, 2009. Now is the time to take action to support HR2819 / S1244 by writing to your state representatives and senators to ask them to co-sponsor the bill. In addition to the original sponsors Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York and Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, 10 representatives and one senator co-sponsor the bill as of June 17, 2009: Reps. Capps, Olver, and Frank of Massachusetts, Reps. Roybal-Allard, Levin, and Meeks of New York, and Reps. Kaptur, Snyder, Schwartz, and Moran of Virginia, and Senator Gillibrand of New York.

You can look up the contact information for your representatives and senators and use the following sample letter or your own draft to write to your representatives and senators to ask them to co-sponsor the Breastfeeding Promotion Act (HR2819 / S1244). I have adapted this sample letter from the advocacy kit provided by the District of Columbia Breastfeeding Coalition for the 2007 Act.

“Subject: Co-Sponsor [H.R. 2819 / S. 1244]
Dear [Representative/Senator] ________:

As your constituent and a _________[insert occupation], I urge you to cosponsor H.R. 2819 / S. 1244, the Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009, introduced by Representative Carolyn Maloney and Senator Jeff Merkley.

Breastfeeding is proven to benefit both the mother and child. Studies show that infants who are not breastfed are more likely to be hospitalized for respiratory infections and diarrhea. Breastfeeding protects children against the debilitating diseases of asthma and childhood obesity, potentially decreases the risk of SIDS and protects mothers from developing breast and ovarian cancer. Breastfeeding has significant economic and environmental benefits for families and society by improving maternal and child health and decreasing or eliminating the need to purchase expensive formula. Because the evidence for improved child and maternal health with breastfeeding is so clear, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers breastfeed exclusively for the first six months and then continue breastfeeding, with the addition of solid foods, for at least the first year of a child’s life.

Many women do not breastfeed or stop breastfeeding because they work in environments that do not allow them to take breaks to pump their breast milk in private areas. In contrast, women who breastfeed and work in supportive work settings have less absenteeism, lower health care expenditures, and greater job satisfaction than women who work in unsupportive or less supportive environments. The Breastfeeding Promotion Act would take significant steps toward protecting all breastfeeding mothers from discrimination and encouraging new mothers to breastfeed.

Already, there is national support for breastfeeding legislation. Forty-nine states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have enacted various laws protecting breastfeeding mothers, but they are not uniform, and most are not comprehensive. [H.R. 2819 / S. 1244] would provide this broad coverage by amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and granting all breastfeeding women protection from workplace discrimination. [H.R. 2819 / S. 1244] would require employers with over 50 employees to provide a private space and unpaid time off during the workday for mothers to express milk, and would set standards for breast pump manufacture. It also would provide for tax incentives for employers that establish private lactation areas in the workplace and tax credits for nursing mothers. Please co-sponsor [H.R. 2819 / S. 1244]. This will allow us to move beyond the patchwork of state laws and provide a unified national policy that encourages breastfeeding and keeps families and their communities healthy. All new mothers deserve the opportunity and support to breastfeed and give their children the best start to life.

To co-sponsor this important legislation, please contact [Representative Maloney’s office at 202.225.7944 or Senator Merkley's office at 202.224.3753].

Sincerely,
Your name
Your street address
City, State Zip”

Your Thoughts

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