It is now illegal for Seattle businesses to ask nursing mothers to stop, cover up or leave the premises, KING 5 News reported.
The Seattle City Council unanimously approved a measure Monday that makes breastfeeding a civil right. Although Washington state had enacted a similar measure in 2009, advocates said this measure would allow the city’s Office for Civil Rights to enforce the law.
"The bottom line is, it's a health issue for our community," Councilmember Bruce Harrell said, according to King 5 News. Harrell sponsored the bill. "It's very clear the benefits of breastfeeding. What we want to do is move the needle in terms of community acceptance of breastfeeding by having our local civil office of rights enforcing the law."
Harrell argued that breastfeeding could reduce infant mortality rates among minorities. In Seattle, American Indian and African Americans have infant mortality rates two times higher than other groups, according to the city's human services department.
Other states have also given protections to breastfeeding moms. In New York, infants may accompany their mothers to a corrections facility if they are 1-year-old or younger. Virginian mothers may breastfeed on any land owned by the state. In Maryland, breastfeeding equipment is exempt from sales tax.
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