Legislation to protect breastfeeding mothers by exempting breastfeeding from Idaho’s indecent exposure and obscenity laws passed the House unanimously today – a big turnaround from 15 years ago, when pro-breastfeeding legislation was rejected amid concerns from male legislators that women would be prompted to “whip it out and do it anywhere.”
This year’s bill, HB 448, proposed by freshman Rep. Paul Amador, R-Coeur d’Alene, the father of a 5-month-old baby boy, passed on a 66-0 vote with no debate.
Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia have laws on the books specifically allowing women to breastfeed in any place they’re legally allowed to be, and 29 states exempt breastfeeding from their public indecency statutes.
“Unfortunately, Idaho is the one state that currently has no protections for breastfeeding mothers,” Amador told the House. “Personally, I find it disappointing that we’re in 2018 and we still haven’t passed this law in Idaho. I think we can take a proactive stance here through legislation to promote the natural bond and health benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child. I also believe the health and nutritional choices of our families are best left as decisions for our families, not our government.”
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He added, “Any law that stands in the way of promoting the healthy development of our children is a law that needs to be changed.”
Amador’s bill, which has 38 co-sponsors including 31 Republicans and seven Democrats, doesn’t establish a right to breastfeed. It just exempts breastfeeding from indecent exposure and obscenity laws.
He said earlier, “It’s to a certain extent a compromise.” Protection to match the other 49 states is “an opportunity for us to work on down the road, but it’s a heavier lift, I think, for us in Idaho.”
To become law, the bill still needs Senate passage and the governor’s signature.