Doylestown Considering Breastfeeding Ordinance
Council president Det Ansinn asked his colleagues to protect the rights of women to breastfeed in public.
The U.S. Surgeon General says breast milk is the best source of nutrition for babies.
So does the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Dietetic Association and plenty of other public health groups.
In Pennsylvania, women have the legal right to breastfeed in public. But just because it's state law doesn't mean that all businesses uphold the law, as any nursing mother who has been asked to go to the bathroom knows.
At the end of Monday night's meeting, Doylestown Borough Council president Det Ansinn asked his colleagues to look into drafting an ordinance that would make it illegal for Doylestown businesses to infringe on a woman's right to breastfeed.
"We want to protect women who breastfeed their children in town," Ansinn said. "It’s a public health issue. (Breastfeeding) is permitted by law, and we want to make sure that our businesses and public places are following the law."
Ansinn asked the council's community and governmental affairs committee to look into drafting an ordinance that would make it illegal for businesses to infringe on a mother's right to breastfeed in public. Council member Marlene Pray, who chairs the committee, said she would look into it.
The move was not motivated by any particular recent incident, Ansinn said, but by anecdotal stories that women have been "kicked out of restaurants, or asked to go to the bathroom" when breastfeeding.
"This is a concern, and it’s a concern for the public health," he said. "It feels like something we should be doing."
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 45 states have laws specifically allowing women to breastfeed in any public or private location. Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware are among them.
In April, one northwestern city took those protections a step farther. The city of Seattle passed an ordinance making it illegal for a business to ask a mother to leave or to cover herself or the baby while feeding.
And the new federal healthcare legislation enacted protections for employees who need to pump breast milk for their babies. The new law requires that businesses and institutions provide "a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk."
Any ordinance that the Doylestown committee drafts would come before the committee and the full council for review before a final vote.