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Breastfeeding in public – you can help.

Many of you have emailed me after reading my Amtrak story to ask whether there are laws in Massachusetts that protect women breastfeeding in public. As it turns out, there are not. But there is legislation in progress. From what I can see, the bill that passed through the Senate (S 2438) offers broader protection than the one that went through the House of Representatives (H 1568) by including private places as well as public ones (I couldn’t figure out if the train would qualify as a public or private place at the time – I’m still not really sure). In any case, we can encourage our lawmakers to move this along.

You can find a list of state legislators here. Simply locate the name of the state senator in your area and send him or her an email or make a quick phone call. Just say that you support a woman’s right to breastfeed her hungry baby whenever and where ever she wants to. Massachusetts is one of just 13 states without any law protecting breastfeeding in public, a real embarrassment in a state where 77% of new moms will initiate breastfeeding.

Just taking the time to get in touch will make a difference, but if you want to draft a longer letter, the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition has some good tips for contacted elected officials here.

If you live in Brookline, Wellesley and Newton, our state senator is Cynthia Creem. Her phone number is 617-722-1639 and her email address is Cynthia.Creem@state.ma.us.

8 comments

  1. Senator Creem is supportive of breastfeeding mothers according to a staffer in her office. So good news on that front!

  2. I just sent a note to our senators in Winchester. This is a very important issue. Thanks for making it so easy for us to contact the people we need to!

    Here’s the contact info for the Winchester reps:

    Patricia.Jehlen@state.ma.us
    Rep.PaulCasey@hou.state.ma.us

  3. Thanks Sheri!
    I have contacted the Senator Creem’s office before on this issue. I will again. Hopefully we will see some protection soon. Good work not ripping into the Amtrak gal :-) Sorry you had to go through that.

  4. When you make the phone calls, you should ask your Senator or Rep not only if they’re in support of the bill, but also if they’d be willing to write a letter to Senate President Therese Murray calling for a vote. It seems like everyone is in support (it passed the House unanimously), someone just needs to be motivated to bring it to the floor.

  5. On the “what law applies” question, have a look at http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/Simple_Copy_Page&c=am2Copy&cid=1093554049471&ssid=149

    “Governing Law

    All travel on, and transactions with, Amtrak is governed by the laws of the District of Columbia, United States of America, without regards to its principles of conflicts of law. You agree to submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of any State or Federal court located in the District of Columbia, United States of America, and waive any jurisdictional, venue or inconvenient forum objections to such courts.”

    and the District of Columbia “Code Ann. ยง 2-1402.81 et seq. provides that a woman shall have the right to breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where she has the right to be with her child.”

    Also have a look see here: http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/Title_Image_Copy_Page&c=am2Copy&cid=1093554073252&ssid=623 to file a complaint about an Amtrak employee violating the law.

    Massachusetts definitely needs breastfeeding legal protection so brava for working on that! But I think you can have at Amtrak in the meantime. ;)

  6. Nice, Jake! That’s some great research.

  7. Wow, great site. I love reading blogs about parenting! It seems like there is always something to learn about it. Thanks again for this blog – it is really good.

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