FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 03/12/2013
Chairwoman Farrar Lays Out Comprehensive Breastfeeding Bill
Texas House Committee on Business and Industry hears HB 1706
AUSTIN, TX — This week, Representative Jessica Farrar presented HB 1706, a bill that strengthens and clarifies existing law regarding a woman's right to breastfeed in any location that she is otherwise authorized to be in, to the Texas House Committee on Business and Industry.
HB 1706 fortifies current law by creating meaningful enforcement measures to ensure that a mother’s right to breastfeed is known and protected. The bill requires the Comptroller’s office to provide businesses with notice of the right to breastfeed. HB 1706 provides redress to a person whose right has been infringed upon through a private civil cause of action.
As Michelle Hickman, a mother who was repeatedly asked to leave a Target in Houston after she began to breastfeed her three month old child there noted, "All a mother is really looking for is an apology… The private cause of action provides some comfort to mothers that they have some options if they are ever asked to leave." This bill would ensure that a mother’s right to be in a location may not be revoked solely because she begins to breastfeed. The bill would also require state agencies, to the extent practicable, to develop a “Mother-Friendly” worksite policy supporting the practice of worksite breastfeeding.
Dr. Susan Landers, a pediatrician, testified that breastfeeding provides numerous lifelong benefits to both infants and mothers. For infants, such benefits include improving cognitive development, and reducing risk factors for childhood obesity, asthma, ear infections, diabetes, obesity, celiac disease, post-neonatal death, and certain cancers. For mothers, such benefits include reducing risk factors for diabetes, postpartum depression, obesity, high blood pressure, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer. Further, as Dr. Landers noted, these benefits increase with the duration and dosage of breastfeeding. These findings were echoed by the Surgeon General in her call to action to support measures that encourage women to breastfeed. When women feel more comfortable breastfeeding in public, they are more likely to do so, and more likely to continue for longer periods in their children's lives.
Rep. Farrar explains, "I have worked on breastfeeding legislation for the past five sessions. I look forward to working with interested parties to make this legislation the best that it can be. No mother deserves to suffer the unimaginable public humiliation, shame, and stigma associated with being forced to leave a location simply for breastfeeding in public."
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