“For years, women have undergone a silent struggle,” Rep. Tami Green (D-Lakewood) said. “Today, we took one step farther in perceiving women as more than second-class citizens and fought for rights that will impact mothers statewide.”
Today, the House unanimously passed Green’s House Bill 1596, which declares that breastfeeding in public is a mother’s civil right, subject to the state’s discrimination law. Under the current law, women in Washington cannot be arrested for indecency while breastfeeding. However, these women are not protected from being asked to leave public places and feed their children in a bathroom or another private establishment.
“Breastfeeding is also one of the healthiest options for children within their first year of life,” Green said. “A mom should feel just as confident sitting down to breastfeed her baby as she is when taking out a bottle to feed her baby,” Green said.
HB 1596 protects a woman’s right to breastfeed in a place of public resort, accommodation, assemblage, or amusement. This includes places such as shopping malls, restaurants and even hospitals. If passed, women will be able to file a complaint with the state’s human rights commission in response to discriminatory treatment.
More than 30 other states have already created similar laws.