Mo. senator seeks to protect breastfeeding moms

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - A bill introduced in the Missouri Senate would explicitly give women the right to breastfeed in public.

Current state law requires that women breastfeed in public "with as much discretion as possible." The proposed bill would remove that phrase from the law. It emphasizes that breastfeeding is not sexual conduct or indecent exposure.

When it comes to breast feeding in public, few people have quite the perspective of Dionna Ford. There are few places more public than the pages of TIME magazine. We first met Ford when she was featured in a cover story discussing breastfeeding. The featured photo shoot went viral when the issue came out last spring. 

Now this is the latest issue that has caught her attention.

"Who decides what's discreet when it comes to breastfeeding mothers and why is it somebody else's definition?"  she said.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph, who says some women have been harassed while trying to breastfeed.

The bill also exempts nursing mothers from jury duty.

The Springfield News-Leader reports that the bill has bipartisan support in committee.

The Centers for Disease Control says about 43 percent of Missouri mothers breastfeed at six months, compared with the national average of about 47 percent.

Ford says she fully supports the 'discretion language' being removed from current law. "A mother breastfeeding her child is just that," she said. "It is not a sexual act. It does not need to be covered up. It just needs to be left alone for what it is."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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