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New breastfeeding bill may help empower Texas moms

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Breastfeeding mothers may soon have legal grounds for recourse if they're kicked out of a public establishment in Texas for performing this natural, yet controversial, motherly task. Texas State Representative, Jessica Farrar, filed a bill on Friday that would allow nursing mothers who are asked to leave any public facility to sue and collect damages from the discriminatory establishment.

Breastfeeding laws

Advocates of breastfeeding may already be familiar with the Texas laws that recognize breastfeeding as the best form of infant nutrition, under the Child Nutrition Act of 1966, and give women the right to breastfeed their child in any location in which they, themselves, are allowed to visit. The Right-To-Breastfeed bill further supports a mother's right to breastfeed by raising the stakes for public establishments that attempt to exclude nursing moms. According to Farrar's website:

"HB 1154 would prohibit interfering or restricting a mother's right to breast-feed in a place she is otherwise authorized to be, such as any place open to the general public. Anyone interfering with a mother's right to breast-feed would receive a written warning for a first offense, and a $250 civil penalty would result for each subsequent offense."

Past problems

Women in the Lone Star State are familiar with this type of discrimination. In 2011, Michelle Hickman staged a nurse-in at a Houston-area Target store after she was harassed by Target employees for breastfeeding at the store. Another Houstonian, Donna Venters, claimed she was fired for asking to pump breast milk at her place of employment. She sued her former employer and lost in federal court in February 2012.

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