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'Nurse In' for Right to Breastfeed in Public

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on December 30, 2011 5:56 AM

Target shopper Michelle Hickman organized a "nurse in" at Target stores across the nation this week. She wanted to make a stand in support of a woman's right to breastfeed. What many Americans may not realize is that breastfeeding laws often encourage and allow women to nurse in public.

It's a lesson that some Target employees in Houston hadn't learned.

Hickman was nursing her infant son in the store when she was stopped by store staff members. They told her to nurse in the fitting room. When she informed them she had the legal right to breastfeed in public, they still directed her to hide herself from view.

The nursing mom called the corporate office to complain after the incident. The representative she spoke to said "just because it is a woman's right to nurse in public...doesn't mean women should walk around 'flaunting it,'" the Huffington Post reports.

Needless to say, Hickman wasn't pleased. Her Target nurse-in Facebook group has over 4,600 members. She wants the event to take place in Target stores across the nation and around the globe.

A number of states have passed public breastfeeding laws. Some states have also removed public indecency penalties against breastfeeding women. Other states have laws that permit women to breastfeed in their workplace.

The laws protect breastfeeding women, and give them freedom and flexibility to nurse their children.

However, not all states have passed these types of laws. Statutory protections for breastfeeding women vary depending on what state you're in.

So take pause before you commit to participate in a public nurse-in to defend a woman's right to breastfeed. Be sure you read up on your jurisdiction's breastfeeding laws. You wouldn't want to accidentally run afoul of your state's statutes.

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