Bill proposes changes to breast feeding law - WKRN News 2

Bill proposes changes to breast feeding law

State Senator Mike Faulk is sponsoring the proposed bill. State Senator Mike Faulk is sponsoring the proposed bill.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A bill making its way through the legislature would get rid of the age restriction on how old a child can be to breast feed in public.

Under current Tennessee state law, women who breast feed a child older than twelve months in public can be arrested for public indecency.

For most mothers, the power to make decisions regarding their child's health is incredibly important, and that includes decisions about breast feeding.

Lauren Cook is a mother of three young children.

"I think it's the mom's right to choose how long she nurses," Cook said

Lesley Hermann agrees with Cook's view on breast feeding a child.

"The decision how long to breast feed should be left up to mothers. It shouldn't be something publicly legislated," Hermann said.

In 2006, the legislature passes a law restricting how long women can breast feed their child in public.

"I didn't even know it existed, because no one I know has ever gotten in trouble for it, but it's crazy that you could," Cook told Nashville's News 2.

State Senator Mike Faulk is sponsoring the proposed bill.

Faulk said he was unaware of the 2006 law until some of his constituents asked whether it could be changed. 

"It makes no sense that the state of Tennessee has any business telling a mother when and where and how long they can breast feed," Faulk said.

Many people in favor of the proposed changes told Nashville's News 2 the idea is to also encourage more women to breast feed their children.

"Children who are breast fed are considerably less likely to become obese as adults," explained Faulk.

He continued, "And mothers who breast feed are considerably less likely to acquire female cancers. So from a health standpoint, it's a very, very important bill."

Cook told Nashville's News 2 she feels women should be able to nurse their child in public as long as it is done in discretion. 

"Cover yourself up and find a private spot. But it's your decision to nurse as long as you want as a mother," Cook said.

Some legislators expressed concerns that without an age limit, the bill could be left open to interpretation. 

Senator Bo Watson said while he is in support of the bill, wants to make sure there aren't any strange loop holes.

"The question was really just a clarification of what we mean by child," Watson said.

An amendment to bring the age limit from 12 months up to three years was voted down in committee.
The bill is scheduled to be up for a full senate vote later this month.
Tennessee is the only state with an age limit for the child breast feeding.

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