Texas May Soon Allow Breastfeeding Moms to Sue if Shunned

If a woman is told she can’t breastfeed in a public place in Texas, she may soon be able to sue the organization or person that dismissed her, if a new law passes the state’s legislature.  The law comes in the wake of a 2011 incident in which nursing mom Michelle Hickman was asked to leave a Target store despite a company policy that is supposed to allow breastfeeding in any spot in the store.  Hickman’s experience inspired a nationwide “nurse-in” at Target stores and other locations.  More on the new law from The Dallas Observer:

On Friday, [state Rep. Jessica] Farrar filed a bill that would allow mothers booted from a public place for nursing can sue and collect damages from whomever did the booting, be it an individual, business, government or other entity.

Advocates have already won acknowledgment that breastfeeding is the optimal way for newborns to get nutrition and that the practice is something to be promoted. But breastfeeding isn’t yet fully a right, not legally anyways.

Take the case of Donnica Venters, a Houston woman who said she was fired for asking to pump breast milk while at work. She and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued, only to lose in federal court last February.

“Lactation is not pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition,” Judge Lynn Hughes wrote in her decision. That means there is no cause of action for “lactation discrimination” under federal law.

That looks unlikely to change anytime soon, but Farrar’s bill would give women like Venters some recourse at the state level.

This issue also came up online in 2012, when a Facebook nurse-in followed the social networking site removing photos of breastfeeding mothers.

Image: Breastfeeding baby, via Shutterstock

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  1. by Katlin Stewardson

    On February 28, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    Yes! Women and their children should be protected. A mother is not pulling her breast out for fun, it’s to nourish her child.

  2. by Tracy in Texas

    On February 28, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    I am all for breast feeding, nurturing the child, feeding when hungry, but lets be honest , your boobies are for your significant other to look at only not the rest of the world, it is totally inappropriate to expose your breast in public, simple go to the women’s bathroom, it’s not that hard ! Going to the bathroom is natural but you don’t go in front of everyone ~ why ? Because your private parts are PRIVATE ! I breast fed but I did it appropriately because whether we like it or not men are aroused at the sight of a beautiful breast ! I am so tired of hearing about this topic ! It’s simple! Go to a Private area! Don’t expose your breast in public ~ no excuses!

  3. by Heather

    On February 28, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    “Lactation is not pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition,” Judge Lynn Hughes wrote in her decision.
    If lactation is not a medical condition related to pregnancy then I don’t know what is….

  4. by Susan

    On February 28, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    As for the ‘feed in the bathroom’ arguement- do you like to eat in the bathroom? My child shouldnt have to! And I guess we should sit on the toilet to do it? Or stand up in the bathroom corner? Come on people! I will breastfeed my kids anywhere they could be bottle fed!

  5. by Susan

    On February 28, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    And as far as the judge goes, um pretty sure I only lactate after having a baby. So pretty sure its a part of maternity. Geesh.

  6. by Nala

    On February 28, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    “I did it appropriately because whether we like it or not men are aroused at the sight of a beautiful breast !”

    That is pretty much the same logic people use to oppress women into covering their ankles or hair with hijabs and burkas. Women shouldn’t be allowed to show them because men around might get aroused, so they’d better cover those faces!

  7. by Megan

    On March 1, 2013 at 1:02 am

    I nursed both of my children for a few months and while I definitely preferred to nurse alone, if I had to feed my kids while in public I used a cover or a blanket. But soley for my own privacy. Not for the comfort of others. When a baby is eating, unless you stare pretty dang hard you are not gonna see much. Breast feeding mothers should be considerate of other people to a degree but they should be allowed to FEED THEIR BABIES wherever they please. If an establishment does not feel its appropriate then they should be obligated to create an environment for them that makes everyone happy. Like how in babies r us they have a nursing room. And my local mall has a few also. It’s what breasts are intended for.

  8. by BethAnne

    On March 1, 2013 at 4:38 am

    You know it’s very obvious that some women on here have never breastfed or actually seen a woman breastfeeding. When breastfeeding your tits are just out. You can see less cleavage than most vneck shirts I have. Not to mention the DISGUSTING “go to the bathroom argument” that’s is so disgusting! Every time a tolit flushes it shoots urine and poop particles into the air and your are expecting a baby and a mother to sit there and injest that?! Anywho who can I suggest you go eat in a tolit, because you are barbaric to suggest any individual do other wise. Seriously you see more breast walking by Victoria Secret than you do seeing a women breastfeed.

  9. by Bethanne

    On March 1, 2013 at 4:40 am

    When breastfeeding your tits AREN’T just out*** sorry I was autocorrected.

  10. by Janice

    On March 1, 2013 at 8:28 am

    Most of the other comments on here covered what needed to be said about how much you see when a woman breastfeeds in public which is NOTHING!
    But I really hate the sue happy world we live in. I think the law needs to be carefully written so that a woman who gets a dirty look from one jerk cant sue the place she is in. However, when it comes to truly being harassed or asked to leave than yes we need some legislature in place to protect our babies. So women choose to not even bother with breastfeeding because of attitudes like Tracy’s and that is sad.

  11. by rina

    On March 1, 2013 at 8:55 am

    I do agree theres a modest way to breastfeed whether u choose to cover up or not. regarding the comment made about taking the baby to the restroom to feed them and men getting turned on…In my opinion if theres not a “location” im the public restroom for nursing like a lil side area for moms and baby… I think its not only disgusting but ridiculous to run to the nasty public restrooms to feed your baby when u can simply modestly feed your baby where your at. i mean schucks… We dont run to restrooms when we wanna snack on something to eat. now if a woman chooses to go to restrooms thats fine but for another person to have the attitude that thats where breastfeeding moms need to be…thats what im referring to. And as far as men are concerned theres always gonna be some ignorant guy getting his jollies off watching anything.. But for the most part men know your feeding your baby and got other things to worry about

  12. by Margaret

    On March 1, 2013 at 11:17 am

    This is silly – you don’t need the right to sue. Know your rights – you can breastfeed anywhere. Be discreet and feed your child. If anyone says anything to you, ignore them. The law is already on your side. If a store shuns you, finish feeding your child and then leave; take your money elsewhere. Badmouth them to everyone you meet. Problem solved.

  13. by Sarah

    On March 1, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    For anyone that has made the comment to go into a public restroom to breastfeed, I want you to ask ask yourself would you take your lunch or dinner into a public restroom to enjoy your meal? If the answer is no, then we should not be expected to do the same for our child.

  14. by Jennifer

    On March 6, 2013 at 2:32 pm