I realize that World Breastfeeding Week is over, but there is something I have been thinking about for a while and wanted to post about. Everytime I nurse my son in a public place, I am always prepared with a witty comeback to defend my rights. But, I am not prepared with what I should be: proof of legality. I am perfectly within my rights to breastfeed in public; covered, uncovered, semi covered, etc. If the manager at Uno’s came to me and asked me to leave I would have choice words for him, but would I be able to justify my right to breastfeed with concrete fact? A few days ago I looked up my rights. La Leche League has a handy list of state laws, which I utilized. Here is the law for New York State:
NY CLS Civ R § 79-e (Article 7 Miscellaneous Provisions).
1994 N.Y. ALS 98; 1994 N.Y. LAWS 98; 1994 N.Y. S.N. 3999
§ 79-E. Right To Breast Feed.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a mother may breast feed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether or not the nipple of the mother’s breast is covered during or incidental to the breast feeding.
This addresses my right to breastfeed, and addresses the showing of my breast, but what if the manager argues that any of my breast showing is against exposure or obscenity laws? Well, he ya go mister!
NY Penal Laws § 245.01, 245.02
§ 245.01. Exposure of a person
A person is guilty of exposure if he appears in a public place in such a manner that the private or intimate parts of his body are unclothed or exposed. For purposes of this section, the private or intimate parts of a female person shall include that portion of the breast which is below the top of the areola. This section shall not apply to the breastfeeding of infants or to any person entertaining or performing in a play, exhibition, show or entertainment.
Since I am a busy mother of a very busy 8.5 month old, I don’t have time to memorize this. As hilarious as it would be to rattle off penal codes to a very unsuspecting individual, it isn’t going to happen. Instead, I have made myself a handy business card with the law printed on it. This card will be stored in my wallet, and laminated. Since it is a business card, I have opted to use the first law. If you are interested in doing the same, which I highly recommend, and wish to include obscenity laws, perhaps you should make a sheet with all of the applicable laws.
Do you have any ideas on how to protect your rights? Leave a comment, I would love to hear them!