Breastfeeding is one of those topics that still manages to stir controversy with regularity, whether that’s Facebook’s erstwhile ban on nipple photos or an ad campaign that riles people up. Slowly but steadily, though, laws are being put in place to protect nursing moms. The Affordable Care Act requires most insurance plans to include coverage of lactation support products and services. It also requires most large employers to provide women time and space to pump breast milk at work.
But laws across the country are still a patchwork on lots of other breastfeeding issues, according to a new report in Health Affairs. Here, seven things to know about how Americans treat breastfeeding.
1. Civic duty still stands
Only 17 states exempt or postpone jury duty for nursing mothers. And, weirdly, Idaho, which has almost no breastfeeding protections on the books, is one of them.
2. Cover up
Illinois specifies that nursing in a place of worship “shall follow the appropriate norms within that place of worship.” Bring a shawl?
3. Forget about a pumping party
California allows breastfeeding in any public location “except the private home or residence of another.” We have so many questions.
4. Legal protections largely there
Name and shame: Idaho and Puerto Rico are the only states/territories where there’s no law on the books saying women can breastfeed in public.
5. But …
In 21 states, including liberal Vermont and California, you may still be ticketed for public indecency or lewd conduct for nursing in public, since indecency laws don’t specifically exempt it.
6. Workplaces lag behind
About half of states don’t have laws related to breastfeeding in the workplace, even though research shows workplace accommodations mean that new moms breastfeed for longer.
7. Nice work, Illinois
Illinois has the most laws in place to protect and promote breastfeeding, according to the Health Affairs study. Idaho, on the other hand, has the fewest.