Amazingly, some women are still discriminated and discouraged from breastfeeding in the United States. There is an increase in initial breastfeeding; however, the rates drop off dramatically as infants age and women return to work. Now, Congress has a chance to get involved in promoting breastfeeding with H.R. 2819/ S. 1244.
According to the United States Breastfeeding Committee:
On June 11, 2009, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (NY) and Senator Jeff Merkley (OR) introduced the Breastfeeding Promotion Act in both houses of Congress, to provide a unified national policy to keep mothers, their children, and their communities healthy. This is the first time the bill has been introduced in the Senate.
The Breastfeeding Promotion Act (H.R. 2819, S. 1244) includes five provisions:
- Amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect breastfeeding women from being fired or discriminated against in the workplace.
- Provides tax incentives for businesses that establish private lactation areas in the workplace, or provide breastfeeding equipment or consultation services to their employees.
- Provides for a performance standard to ensure breast pumps are safe and effective.
- Allows breastfeeding equipment and consultation services to be tax deductible for families (amends Internal Revenue Code definition of “medical care”).
- Protects the privacy of breastfeeding mothers by ensuring they have break time and a private place to pump (applies to employers with 50 or more employees, see text of legislation for details).
The Breastfeeding Promotion Act is meant to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to the text of the act:
Although title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as so amended, applies with respect to ‘‘pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions’’, a few courts have failed to reach the conclusion that breastfeeding and expressing breast milk in the workplace are covered by such title.
47 states have enacted pro-breastfeeding legislation, but “the Breastfeeding Promotion Act to provide a unified national policy to keep mothers, their children, and their communities healthy.” It is time we had a national policy on breastfeeding!
Image: _Shward_ on Flickr under a Creative Commons License