Only three U.S. states have no public breastfeeding law – West Virginia, Idaho and Nebraska. Unfortunately the majority of state public breastfeeding laws don't do a particularly good job of stopping harassment of women who breastfeed in public (this is where I tell you again to go read my feature in Mothering magazine called Lactation and the Law, remind you that "a right without a remedy is no right at all," and tell you I have an update feature on U.S. breastfeeding law coming out in Mothering in probably the May/June issue).
On January 7th, Legislative Bill 197 was introduced in the Nebraska Legislature. The text is:
Section 1. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a mother may breast-feed her child in any public or private location where the mother is otherwise authorized to be.
Introduced by State Senator Annette Dubas, it does not appear this bill, if passed, would confer any right, enforceable or otherwise. As written, this is a permission law. Women may breastfeeding in public and, it seems, other people may interfere with her ability to do that by telling her to leave or cover up. And it doesn't appear there is anything the nursing woman would be able to do about it.
Since breastfeeding in public is not currently illegal in Nebraska, one must wonder why women need permission. They don't. They need protection. And this bill doesn't give protection.
Senator Dubas may not understand this is how public breastfeeding laws work. And it may be helpful if Nebraskans tell her what kind of public breastfeeding law Nebraska really needs.
Are you a Nebraskan? Have you nursed in public? Can you contact Senator Dubas, the bill's co-sponsors and your own state senator and let them know Nebraska needs a public breastfeeding law that will really protect a right to breastfeed in public?