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Florida Breastfeeding Law

Florida Legislation-February 1993
House bill no. HB 231  Fl. ALS 4; 1993 Fla. Laws ch. 4; 1993 Fla. HB 231 Fla. Stat. § 383.015, § 800.02 - 800.04, § 847.001 (later: § 827.071)

Subject:  Encouraging breastfeeding and authorizing breastfeeding in public
     The bill would be an endorsement of the importance of Florida infants being breastfed and protect a motherís right to breastfeed whenever and wherever she needs to. Increasing breastfeeding rates is an international, national and state health priority.  Florida has among the lowest breastfeeding rates in the nation. A perceived major barrier for many women to breastfeeding is a fear of embarrassment in public. This bill would diminish those fears and make women more secure in their right to breastfeed.  More Floridian mothers breastfeeding would lead to decreased infant morality and morbidity rates.  Increased rates of breastfeeding among WIC infants would lead to significant financial savings, due to reduction in illness and associated physician visits, outpatient treatment and hospitalization.

Florida House of Representatives-1993  CS/HB 231
     WHEREAS, the Surgeon General of the United States recommends that babies from birth to 1 year of age be breastfed, unless medically contraindicated, in order to attain an optimal healthy start, and
     WHEREAS, despite the Surgeon Generalís recommendation, statistics reveal a declining percentage of mothers who are choosing to breastfeed their babies, and
     WHEREAS, nearly half of all new mothers are now choosing formula over breastfeeding before they even leave the hospital, only 20 percent are still breastfeeding when their babies are 6 months old, and only 6 percent are still breastfeeding when their babies are 1 year old, and
     WHEREAS, the social constraints of modern society militate against the choice of breastfeeding and lead new mothers with demanding time schedules to opt for formula feeding for reasons such as embarrassment and the fear of social ostracism or criminal prosecution, and
     WHEREAS, the promotion of family values and infant health demand putting an end to the vicious cycle of embarrassment and ignorance that constricts women and men alike on the subject of breastfeeding and represents hostility to mothers and babies in our culture based on archaic and outdated moral taboo, and
     WHEREAS, any genuine promotion of family values should encourage public acceptance of this most basic act of nurture between mother and baby, and no mother should be made to feel incriminated or socially ostracized for breastfeeding her baby, NOW, THEREFORE,

Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
Section 1.      The breastfeeding of a baby is an important and basic act of nurture which must be encouraged in the interests of maternal and child health and family values.  A mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether or not the nipple of the motherís breast is covered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.

Florida Senate Bill #1668, 1994 FL ALS 217; 1994 Fla. Laws ch. 217; 1994 Fla. SB 1668
Fla. Stat. . § 363.318, § 383.015, § 383.016, § 383.311, § 383.318

The portion of this bill relating to employment provided as follows:
Section 6. Access to breast feeding for public-sector employees demonstration project.
The Legislature recognizes a mother's responsibility to her job and to her child when she returns to work and acknowledges that a woman's choice to breastfeed benefits the family, society-at-large, and the employer. There is established the access to breastfeeding for public sector employees demonstration project. The demonstration project shall be conducted to determine the benefits of, potential barriers to, and potential costs of implementing worksite breast feeding support policies for public-sector employees in the state.
(1) The demonstration project is established in the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services and shall be administered by the State Health Officer.
(2) The department shall develop written policies supporting breast-feeding practices for the workplace which address issues including work schedule flexibility; scheduling breaks and work patterns to provide time for milk expression; provision of accessible locations allowing privacy; access nearby to a clean, safe water source and sink for washing hands and rinsing out any needed breast pumping equipment; and access to hygienic storage alternatives in the workplace for the mother's breastmilk.
(3) The department shall provide the draft policies to all districts for review and require a written assessment of the benefits oft potential barriers to, and any potential cost of implementation by all department employees.
(4) The department shall implement the written policies as a demonstration work site project in Dade County, beginning in November, 1994.
(5) The State Health Officer shall submit a report to the Governor, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the minority leaders of both houses of the Legislature, And the chairmen of the appropriate substantive committees of the Legislature by December 1995. The report must include:
(a) A description of the draft worksheet breast feeding support policies developed;
(b) A description of the implementation of the worksheet breast feeding support policies in Dade County and any problems encountered;
(c) The extent of the utilization of any breast feeding or breast pumping facilities by department employees in Dade County;
(d) A survey of the satisfaction with such breast feeding or breast pumping facilities and worksheet breast feeding support policies by users and their supervisors in Dade County;
(e) The costs and benefits associated with the demonstration project in Dade County;
(f) A summary of issues rained by the districts; and
(g) A recommendation of any policy and program changes that need to be incorporated for statewide implementation and strategies for implementing the policy in other state agencies.

Another section of the bill created section 383.016 of the Florida Statutes, which provides for a breast-feeding encouragement policy for facilities providing maternity services and newborn infant care and authorizing use of "baby-friendly" designation. Various other sections of the bill amend numerous provisions of the law (amends sections 383.015, 383.011, 383.311, and 363.318 of the Florida Statutes) relating to breast feeding, administration of maternal and child health programs, education for birth center clients, and postpartum care for birth center clients, requiring encouragement of breastfeeding.

THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO BREASTFEED      (click on Breastfeeding & the Law to read more)
In looking at legislation, first look at the language of the case of Dike v. Orange County School Board, 650 F.2d 783 (5th Cir., 1981) . This case sets forth that mothers have a constitutional right to breastfeed. In that case, a teacher wanted to nurse her baby on her duty free lunch break. The school claimed that insurance provisions prohibited teachers from bringing their children onto school property, and also prohibited teachers from leaving the school grounds during the day. The trial court ruled that the mother had no right to breastfeed. In Dike, the appeals court reversed the case and remanded it for a new trial, stating that breastfeeding is a protected constitutional right. "Breastfeeding is the most elemental form of parental care. It is a communion between mother and child that, like marriage, is "intimate to the degree of being sacred," Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. at 486, 85 S. Ct. at 1682, 14 L. Ed. 2d at 516. Nourishment is necessary to maintain the child's life, and the parent may choose to believe that breastfeeding will enhance the child's psychological as well as physical health. In light of the spectrum of interests that the Supreme Court has held specially protected we conclude that the Constitution protects from excessive state interference a woman's decision respecting breastfeeding her child." 650 F.2d at 787

I was Janice Dike's La Leche League Leader when she was prohibited from her husband bring their baby to her during her duty free lunch break between split shift of teaching kindergarden.  (more regarding the Dike case)

  In memory: Elizabeth Baldwin, Esq., a prominent Florida attorney, breastfeeding advocate and La Leche League Leader, passed away March 12, 2003 after an extended illness. She handled her illness courageously and optimistically as she did with everything in life.

She was known as the country's authority on breastfeeding and family law.  She worked tirelessly to help mothers nationwide fight discrimination and solidify their right to breastfeed their babies both in public and in the workplace. She was an invaluable help to those who passed breastfeeding legislation in the United States.  She also brought her expertise into the courtroom representing mothers in cases of child custody and visitation. Other attorneys in their family law cases often consulted her when breastfeeding rights were at issue.

She was often quoted in national newspapers and often made appearances on television and radio shows across the country. Her devotion to her family and the rights of breastfeeding mothers and babies was apparent as she balanced her family and professional activities. She served as the Director of the Legal Associates Program for La Leche League International.

She was scheduled to receive the La Leche League International Founders' Award in July of this year for her years of service to LLLI and mothers and babies everywhere.  She was instrumental in helping LLLI get started, and always put in extra effort on LLLI's legal pages.

She is survived by her husband, Kenneth Friedman and her children David and William.

A personal note from Pat:
            Liz was one of the most enthusiastic, empowering women I have every known.  She had a real passion for life.  When she spoke at conferences, she was engaging, witty and down to earth.  I greatly miss her.  Many who knew her miss her.  I'll always remembered her great love, deep devotion and vibrant passion not only for her family and friends, but for breastfeeding mothers and babies everywhere. May Liz's life inspire others to continue the work of supporting breastfeeding mothers. May God comfort and bless her family.  Good bye my colleague, my friend...

God created it,
Science confirms it,
Nature celebrates it

"Breastfeeding is the most precious gift
a mother can give her infant.
 When there is illness or malnutrition,  
it may be a lifesaving gift;
when there is poverty,
it may be the only gift"
Ruth Lawrence, M.D.

© 2001 Pat Lindsey, IBCLC - Lactation Services all rights reserved.
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