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Katy Grimes

Breastfeeding Mothers Need the CA Legislature

Breastfeeding mothers have fed their infants for thousands of years, somehow, in public places. I’ve never seen a woman hassled for breastfeeding — even the women who do it immodestly.

Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal is authoring AB 1878, the “Lactation Accommodation in California Commercial Airports Act.”

“According to the US Breastfeeding Committee, women with infants and children are the fastest growing segment of the workforce,” a fact sheet on AB 1787 said. “Among employed women with children under age three, approximately 70 percent work full-time. One third of mothers return to work within three months after giving birth, and two- thirds return within six months.”

Lowenthal wants all airports to provide lactation rooms for breastfeeding mothers, because somehow women can’t figure out how or where to breastfeed in airports.

“Currently in California, only one airport offers private rooms for the purpose of expressing breastmilk. San Francisco International Airport has nine existing nurseries onsite and an additional four in the planning stages,” the fact sheet said.

This latest bill in the long list of breastfeeding legislation, is yet again proof California needs a Part Time Legislature, because women just can’t figure out how, when and where to breastfeed.

Long list of legislation for breastfeed mothers

California has been legislating breastfeeding laws since the mid-1990’s, when women apparently started having a difficult time breastfeeding in public.

In 1995, the Legislature passed a law requiring the State Department of Public Health to include in its public service campaign the promotion of mothers breast-feeding their infants.

In 1997, the Right to Breastfeed in Public Act was passed, allowing  a mother to breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, except the private home or residence of another, where the mother and the child are otherwise authorized to be present.

Breastfeeding at Work law was passed in 1998, encouraging the State of California and all California employers to strongly support and encourage the practice of breastfeeding by striving to accommodate the needs of employees, and by ensuring that employees are provided with adequate facilities for breastfeeding, or the expressing of milk for their children. The Legislature also requested the Governor declare by executive order that all State of California employees shall be provided with adequate facilities for breastfeeding, or the expressing of milk.”

By year 2000, the Jury Duty Breastfeeding Mothers Act requiring the standardized jury summons include a specific reference to the rules for breast-feeding mothers.

Lactation Accommodation was passed in 2000 requiring every employer, including the state and any political subdivision, to provide a reasonable amount of break time to accommodate an employee desiring to express breast milk for the employee’s infant child.

Several more Breastfeeding public health campaigns were passed by the Legislature, allowing the public health department include in its public service campaign the promotion of mothers breast-feeding their infants.

The public health department was ordered to recommend breastfeeding training for general acute care hospitals.

The public health department was ordered to streamline and simplify existing Medi-Cal program procedures in order to improve access to lactation supports and breast pumps among Medi-Cal recipients.

In 2011, the Hospital Infant Feeding Act was passed requiring “Perinatal units” within hospitals, to promote breastfeeding, utilizing guidance provided by the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative or the State Department of Public Health Model Hospital Policy Recommendations.

In 2011, SB 502 by Senator Fran Pavley and Sen. Kevin De León, was signed into law implementing step one of the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding” as adopted by Baby Friendly USA. SB 502 requires all perinatal hospitals in California to have an infant feeding policy in place by January 1, 2014.

The Unlawful Discrimination: Breastfeeding Included in Definition of Sex Act was passed in 2012 – AB 2386 changed Government Code Section 12926 to include:

(q) (1) “Sex” includes, but is not limited to, the following:
(A) Pregnancy or medical conditions related to pregnancy.
(B) Childbirth or medical conditions related to childbirth.
(C) Breastfeeding or medical conditions related to breastfeeding.

In 2012, Pregnancy Regulations: Lactation included as an Related Medical Condition of Pregnancy was passed.

In 2013, CalWORKS: Welfare-to-Work Requirements were added in  SB 252, altering the Welfare and Institutions Code Section 11218, allowing that an applicant or recipient of welfare is entitled to breastfeed her child in any public area, or area where the mother and the child are authorized to be present, in a county welfare department or other county office.

In October 2013, Gov, Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 402 by Sen. Kevin De León, D-Los Angeles, “which helps achieve health equity for mothers and their newborns by requiring all perinatal hospitals in California to implement the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding” recommended by the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative.”

What’s that about a Part Time Legislature?

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