Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Breastfeeding in public is a civil right--in California, and anywhere in America

Recently in Georgia, a mom claimed deputy threatened to arrest her for being “offensive” by breastfeeding in a grocery store.

On Sunday, Savvy Shukla took to Facebook after a trip to Piggly Wiggly, a local grocery store in Muskogee County, Georgia, where the deputy told her she needed to cover up because someone might find her breastfeeding offensive.

Savvy said she told the deputy that Georgia law allows public breastfeeding, but the deputy said he could see her areola and that if someone else saw it, he would arrest her.

While most of us (the readers of SDCBC’s blog posts and myself) assume that everybody knows that breastfeeding in public is legal in our great country, apparently some people don’t. Breastfeeding-in-public harassment situations repeatedly hit moms everywhere in America, including here in San Diego.

A couple of years ago, Rebecca Garcia was harassed for breastfeeding her 8-month-old son in one of the courtrooms at the Chula Vista Courthouse. When her son started to fuss, the bailiff, Deputy Chong, approached to Rebecca and asked what she was doing. When Rebecca said she was breastfeeding, Deputy stated loudly in front of the entire courtroom, “You should be ashamed of yourself, it’s inappropriate, you need to leave and go outside, do that somewhere else private, it is illegal to breastfeed in court!”

Rebecca reported that, “I felt embarrassed and ashamed because of the way that the Deputy was staring me down.”

Fortunately, after contacting San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition and filed a complaint to San Diego County Courts, Rebecca receives a formal, written apology for the action of Deputy Chong. And after the Georgian deputy reportedly threatens to arrest Savvy over breastfeeding at Piggly Wiggly, Muscogee County Sheriff defends the nursing mom and confirmed that public breastfeeding is legal in Georgia.

So what does the law actually say?

According to the Federal Public Breastfeeding Law, “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a woman may breastfeed her child at any location in a Federal building or on Federal property, if the woman and her child are otherwise authorized to be present at the location.”

According to California Civil Code, section 43.3, “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, except the private home or residence of another, where the mother and the child are otherwise authorized to be present.”

That says, a mother may breastfeed her child in any public space.

Yet mothers sill harassed for nursing in public. So what we can do?

There are several things you can do to make a difference.

  • Next time when you see a mother breastfeeding in public, please smile at her and show your support.
  • Learn about the laws in your state that protect the rights of mothers breastfeeding in public: United States Breastfeeding Laws at Nursing Freedom
  • When someone asks you to cover up in a store or restaurant, stay calm and breathe deeply. If the person is an employee of the establishment, you may ask, “Are you refusing to serve me because I am breastfeeding?” If the person respect your right, thank them and breastfeed on. IF they harass you, contact us here at San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition. We are here to help. If you are not in San Diego county, call the Best for Babes NIP Harassment Hotline to report the incident: 1-855-NIP-FREE

Other resources:

This is an original post for San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition by To-wen Tseng. Photo credit to Tribune Media Wire.

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