New law protects breast-feeding women from discrimination
BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. -- This week, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed a law that makes it illegal to discriminate against breast-feeding mothers. Local parents and health experts in Michigan say the law is life-changing.
Before the act was created, mothers could be - and were - kicked out of restaurants, stores and parks for breast-feeding in public. Some were even charged with public indecency.
"It's a common misconception that nursing women are just trying to show their breasts to everybody. We're just trying to feed our kid," said Tara Foster.
Foster says she feels empowered knowing she's now protected by the law when it comes to feeding her daughter.
"I'm really glad this law was passed, now where if somebody does ask you to leave you have the right to stay," said Foster.
Mistel de Varona, a breast feeding counselor with the Berrien County Health Department, says this law was a long -time coming.
Forty-five other states already have laws in place that protect nursing moms.
"I get goose bumps just thinking about this," said de Varona.
Governor Snyder signed the breastfeeding anti-discrimination act on Tuesday.
"I actually stopped a mom that day in Meijer who was nursing her child in the line checking out and I said you know now you're protected, so know your rights," said de Varona.
Foster says it's humiliating to get kicked out of a public place for breast-feeding your baby.
In the past, some have argued if a mom wants to breastfeed in public she needs to use a breast pump or cover up with a blanket.
Foster says she's tried that, and it was the worst experience for her and her baby.
"Especially when it's really hot in the summer. Can you imagine eating under a blanket in like 90 degree heat?" said Foster.
Foster has always been passionate about the rights to breast-feed and with this law backing her, she feels stronger than ever.
"I'm expecting my second child so I'm really excited that I'll be able to nurse him and not have to worry about anybody trying to kick me out of their establishments," said Foster.
The law even goes further to protect breast-feeding women who are discriminated against.
"If the person is harassing you, you can bring a civil suit against that person and they can be fined $200 as well as the court will reimburse the legal fees for the mom," said de Varona.