Economy

Now, Only Two States Don't Allow Breastfeeding in Public

March 16th 2015

By:
Laura Donovan

Breastfeeding in public is no longer banned in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The governor just signed two laws that allow women to nurse their babies in public places.

Up until last week, Virginia was one of three states forbidding mothers from breastfeeding in public. The two other states where it's still against the law are South Dakota and Idaho. 

Rebecca Geller, a Fairfax resident with three children, made the reform possible in the first place when last year she called upon Del. David Albo, (R-Fairfax) to introduce a breastfeeding bill, which they designed by studying a Texas law.

“It’s great that Virginia is catching up to the rest of the country and hopefully can be a leader on this issue,” Geller told D.C.'s WTop. "It’s a great day for Virginia to show Virginia stands for women’s rights and protects women’s rights for feeding their children."

Liz Boyce of Richmond, Va., told 13 News Now that she's "happy" about the new law in her state, as she has a set of twins and didn't appreciate feeling like she couldn't feed them in public spots.

"They were breastfeed until a year old. They were premature slightly - 36 weeks. But it was important that they get breast milk. I can't believe we have to legislate where they can eat and can't," Boyce said. 

Stacy Kucharzyck, who provides lactation and breastfeeding services, told 13 News Now that the changes will be good for the health of Virginia women.

"We used to say what are the benefits of breast feeding and now we're saying what are the risks of formula feeding, so if mom loses her milk, it's starts the whole cascade: the risk for SIDS, childhood cancers, risk for infections," Kucharzyck said.

While all of this is great for Virginia, breastfeeding still makes people uncomfortable in certain areas. Last week, Tiffany Hoag from Oklahoma City was booted from a YMCA women's locker room and told to breastfeed her infant in a family bathroom instead, according to the Daily Mail.

"I really am humiliated and just embarrassed. I was escorted out of the locker room and through the gym," Hoag said, adding that another mom was thrown out of the locker room for the same thing.
 
The YMCA then released a statement on the matter, claiming it was all just a big misunderstanding, "The Y is a place for families, and we support breastfeeding moms in our facilities. We believe this was likely an unfortunate mistake with our staff member misinterpreting our locker room policy, which states that children are not allowed in adult locker rooms. We are looking into this particular incident further with the staff members involved in an effort to ensure that no other moms have this happen in the future. We are very sorry that this new mom had a negative experience and will continue to train our staff to understand that moms can breastfeed anywhere they would like to do so in our facilities."
 
In the state of Oklahoma, women are free to nurse wherever they please.