While nursing mothers have had to endure shaming whilst breastfeeding in public – something that is likely not going to end any time soon – now they have the law on their side. Earlier this year, public breastfeeding became legal in all 50 states. This became possible thanks to two states – Idaho and Utah – that passed laws that protect breastfeeding mothers, according to a news report published by USA Today.
National Breastfeeding Month
August is National Breastfeeding Month. Accordingly, below is a list of rights and protections nursing mothers have in the United States.
- Mothers can now breastfeed anywhere, any time, in all 50 states, as well as the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.;
- 17 states have laws on the books that address breastfeeding mothers who are called for jury duty; some allow postponement of jury duty while others allow an outright exemption;
- Under ACA, the cost of breastfeeding pumps is covered at no cost to the mother, although the insurer can choose the brand and type (electric, manual or rental) that is covered under the policy;
- Lactation consultant costs are also covered at no charge by health insurance under ACA, including meetings with in-network consultants, domestic violence counseling, and gestational diabetes testing;
- Employers must provide break time for nursing mothers and a place to pump breastmilk, for up to one year after the baby’s birth, according to the Department of Labor;
- 29 states, in addition to the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have laws on the books regarding breastfeeding in the workplace;
- Six states, in addition to Puerto Rico, have encouraged the development of or implemented breastfeeding awareness education campaigns. These include California, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi and Vermont.
Under Nevada law, the statutes note that breastfeeding a child is not considered a violation of indecent exposure laws, and that a mother may breastfeed in any private or public location, where the mom is otherwise allowed to be located.
Other Protections for Mothers
It is estimated that at least 180 countries across the globe have laws that guarantee some type of paid maternity leave. Only nine countries do not provide this benefit – Papau New Guinea, Surinam, six Pacific island nations, and the United States. In America, four states – California, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island – offer paid leave that is funded through payroll taxes.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BOL) reports that more than 41 million U.S. workers can not take a paid sick day to care for a child who is ill; moreover, a mere 12% have access to paid leave. According to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, the state of Georgia ranks 44th in the nation when it comes to working mothers. And, under Georgia state laws, maternity leave is not mandatory; neither mothers nor fathers have extensive rights under its laws. Moms generally have the option to buy short-term disability insurance before getting pregnant – and this is how they are able to earn maternity leave after the baby is born. That being said, dads are unable to file a short-term disability claim under these insurance policies for parental leave.