Have you ever tried to breastfeed in public and gotten dirty looks or nasty comments? I have. Did you ever attempt to continue nursing after you went back to work, only to face so many problems that you had to switch to formula? I did (at a different job) with my first child. But I sure as heck didn’t get fired for taking breaks to pump at work, as LaNisa Allen of Ohio apparently was. Read LaNisa's story at Campbell Brown's blog on CNN.
Twenty-four states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have laws addressing the protection of nursing moms at work, but Ohio isn’t one of them. So when Allen recently sued her company (all the way to the State Supreme Court), she lost.
Back in 2007 I was over the moon with excitement when Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) invited me to share the podium with her in Washington as she reintroduced the Breastfeeding Promotion Act. The proposed legislation would not only protect women’s right to breastfeed in public all over the nation but ensure that women working at companies with 50 or more employees can’t be fired or discriminated against for pumping during lunch or breaks. It would also offer incentives for businesses to provide nursing-friendly areas for working moms.
It was a sunny day in May when I joined Rep. Maloney and her staff on a balcony across the street from the Capitol. Before long, we were surrounded by about 120 nursing moms. It turned into a wonderful party, with older tots running around and babies, babies everywhere -- in strollers, slings, and carriers -- nursing, shrieking, and enjoying the day. Rep. Maloney talked about the bill as reporters scribbled and snapped photos.
Then I stood and held up Babytalk’s cover from August ’06 -- the first photo of a breastfeeding baby on the cover of a national parenting magazine. (As you may remember, it caused a sensation: We got thousands of thank-you letters from moms for that cover.) The huge cheer that erupted around me brought tears of joy to my eyes. I vowed that Babytalk and Parenting would continue to do all we could to fight for nursing moms’ rights.
Rep. Maloney is still working to pass her bill, all these years later. How shameful is that? Knowing what we do about the superior nutrition of breast milk, how can such a worthy bill just sit, going nowhere, for years? Do you think it would still be nowhere if the ratio of men to women in Congress were reversed?
Let’s show our power as women and moms! Click here to find your state representative (just enter your ZIP code), then write to your representative in Congress and express your support for the Breastfeeding Promotion Act.