Idaho moms push for change in breastfeeding law
BOISE — This week, mothers across the country are celebrating their right to breastfeed their children.
Idaho ranked first nationwide last year when it came to the ratio of mothers who nurse.
But, there are currently no laws about breastfeeding in public — it’s not prohibited, but it’s also not protected.
In fact, Idaho is one of just two states without laws supporting nursing mothers.
It’s something some local moms feel so passionately about, they wanted to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week with professional photos, feeding their babies.
ShutterHappy Photography did sessions for several moms, like Lonnia Stephenson.
“It’s what I need to do as a mom for my child so I plan on continuing no matter what,” said Stephenson.
But Stephenson says she has experienced some criticism for feeding her child in public.
“There is definitely some anxiety for me because I am a new mom and breastfeeding in public, just because I have experienced some negativity with it,” said Stephenson.
Stephenson and Boise mom Abby Boltz say they had no idea about the laws surrounding nursing in public in Idaho.
“I was pretty surprised actually, like I said, knowing that there are so many people out there who breast feed and to know that we’re not protected against that was a big shock,” said Boltz.
In the Gem State, while breastfeeding in public places isn’t prohibited, it also isn’t protected like it is in most other states.
Jen Montz is a La Leche League leader. The nationwide organization helps nursing mothers against the world through support, mom-to-mom encouragement, and education.
The chapter in the Treasure Valley would like to see a change in state law, so that breastfeeding moms feel more protected.
“If we were on someone’s private property for example, there is no recourse we could have, we could even be removed for trespassing,” said Montz.
It’s legislation some in Idaho have been fighting for for years. In fact, 48 other states have similar laws supporting breastfeeding mothers.
Kori Penkert is with Idaho Breastfeeding Law Coalition.
The group has recently drafted a bill and sent it to legislators. Penkert says most support it, but so far they haven’t been able to find someone to sponsor it.
As for those against the proposal, Penkert says most just think it’s not needed.
“There is a lot of controversy about it, there are a lot of individual people who think a woman should not be feeding a baby in public, but I haven’t seen any organized, anything against it,” said Penkert.
The Idaho Breastfeeding Law Coalition is hosting an event Thursday at Boise City Hall at 5:30 p.m.
You can find more information on that event HERE.
To learn more about the Idaho Breastfeeding Law Coalition, click HERE.