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PUBLIC OPINION > Public Breastfeeding Should Be a Civil Right

SodaHead Living 2012/04/09 13:00:00
In 1999, Congress passed a bill that permitting women to breastfeed on Federal property, and as of 2009, 47 states have laws in place specifically permitting breastfeeding in public. However, despite the government's attitude toward the practice, it has frequently been met with resistance by establishments that are not comfortable with it -- restaurants, airlines, retail outlets. Now a group of Seattle mothers are trying to sponsor a local bill to make public breastfeeding a civil right, placing it in the same category as racial and gender discrimination. We asked the public if that would be a good move.

sodahead breastfeeding

If Seattle courts are on the same page as the general public, it should be a no-brainer. Most people would like a law in place that makes it impossible for establishments to ask mothers to breastfeed outside or cover up. However, many respondents, even those who voted "Yes," pointed out that it's not difficult to bring a blanket. One commenter wrote, "I understand that it's a natural thing, but women could use some courtesy and put a blanket over said boob."

Conservatives Hesitate

A lot of voters seemed concerned that a woman's right to breastfeed might be compromised if it's not made a civil right, but conservative voters weren't so sure. This is probably because conservatives feel making it a civil right would infringe on an establishment's right to tell a woman to cover up.

Different Without Children

Parents generally voted along with the overall opinion, but among those who didn't have kids, there was a clear division. Respondents who wanted kids eventually were 5% more likely to support public breastfeeding as a civil right, while those who didn't want kids were 11% less likely.

Young People Don't Mind

Believe it or not, the youngest voters were most likely to support making public breastfeeding a civil right -- about 9% more than the overall. It could be that younger people lean left politically, but it's an interesting stat nonetheless.


If you'd like to vote on this question, dig deeper into the demographics, or engage in existing discussion about the topic, visit our poll about public breastfeeding. We'd love to hear from you!
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Top Opinion

  • Mr Wayne 2012/04/09 13:38:40
    Mr Wayne
    +18
    Tell them not to "get upset" if someone stares while they do it.
    I know a guy at the VFW is fascinated by it and watches every time he sees it.
    He says the cops have given him a hard time about it.

    If it becomes a "right" to do in public, then standing and watching them should be no more offensive than watching someone excersize their "right" to smoke in public.

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  • Laura 2012/04/11 04:18:01 (edited)
    Laura
    +2
    "For gods sakes woman! Have some decency and put a blanket over that baby's head! No one wants to see that!"
    gorilla nursing

    Yeah...try taking that tactic with her. I would LOVE to see what happens! LOL
  • Nestofasssps 2012/04/11 01:22:32
    Nestofasssps
    Forty-five states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location. (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.)
    Twenty-eight states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws. (Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.)
    Twenty-four states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have laws related to breastfeeding in the workplace. (Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Monta...

    Forty-five states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location. (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.)
    Twenty-eight states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws. (Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.)
    Twenty-four states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have laws related to breastfeeding in the workplace. (Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.)
    Twelve states and Puerto Rico exempt breastfeeding mothers from jury duty. (California, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon and Virginia.)
    Five states and Puerto Rico have implemented or encouraged the development of a breastfeeding awareness education campaign. (California, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri and Vermont.)
    (more)
  • ann blakely 2012/04/11 00:31:32
    ann blakely
    personally i do not have a problem with mothers breastfeeding in public as long as it is done with discreetly. but it is going a bit overboard to make it a civil right. think about it. civil rights are to protect us from unfair job discrimination, allow us to purchase a home in any neighborhood we can afford and other critical areas of life. breastfeeding does not rise to any level that justifies it being deemed a civil right.
  • pies_Guy 2012/04/11 00:30:07
    pies_Guy
    OH HELL NAW!...women need to keep they asses at home with they babies if they gonna have to tit feed them. IT should NOT be a "Civil Right"! women with babies have no reason to have they skanky asses in public anyway, they need to take they stretch marked asses back home and tend to they homes and husbands instead of being all OUT in public like some hussy ass ho's! these women needs to stop with all this BS and instead be good little mothers to they snotty assed little kids.
  • Nestofa... pies_Guy 2012/04/11 01:10:03
    Nestofasssps
    +1
    Come into the 21st century dood, we have cookies!
  • Melanie pies_Guy 2012/04/11 02:11:21
    Melanie
    Um if you think this is humoris, it's not. That was rude and disrespectful. You need to shut the f*ck up. It's alright to state your opinion bit was all that really nesassary? It's insulting.
  • pies_Guy Melanie 2012/04/11 03:33:36
  • Melanie pies_Guy 2012/04/21 18:57:07
  • pies_Guy Melanie 2012/04/23 06:07:36
    pies_Guy
    u jus mad cuz u jealous u aint's one of them hot sexy women that should be goin around with they breasts showing. no wonder u aint's married or has no kids....u's fugly! But cheer up, u could put lot's o' make-up on and you could put some toilet paper in yo A cups.
  • Melanie pies_Guy 2012/04/24 02:01:51
    Melanie
    Lol let's see I'm 15 so its not even legal to be married yet and I have a boyfriend actually! And I don't need a lot of makeup. I'm a model at Louise's people and act in commercials so obviously I must be sort of attractive so stop assuming I'm ugly and I'm 87 pounds so my breasts are small considering I lost a lot of weight last year due to illness. So listen to the facts before you assume things.
  • alaws2005 pies_Guy 2012/04/11 19:16:02
    alaws2005
    +1
    You have the right to your opppion, but watch the mouth. There is nothing wring with women who breast feeding in public, but with blanked.
  • pies_Guy alaws2005 2012/04/12 05:50:16
  • ScottyG - Faqueue 2012/04/10 23:23:49
    ScottyG - Faqueue
    +2
    Boobs are great to see and fun for the whole family! I'm all for public boob viewing, even if they are used as a food source.
  • TimothyBrianFoley 2012/04/10 22:34:33
    TimothyBrianFoley
    yes its a basic fundamental right mother's rights will be vilated by banning breastfeeding in public.
  • I am me 2012/04/10 21:30:09 (edited)
    I am me
    +2
    What I really don't get is why, even after all the evidence that shows all the health benefits to the child AND the mother, that breastfeeding isn't more supported by society. We keep viewing and labeling it as dirty and comparing it to sexual or dirty (as in going to the bathroom) things. When it should be neither of these things. And perhaps people wouldn't have the need to "stare" as the top commenter suggests if it were more supported and common place.

    It's misogynistic for it to be ok for women to run around in barely nothing and pro beach volleyball women be forced to wear bikini's and to otherwise sexualize women. But it's dirty and uncomfortable for a woman to breastfeed her child in public. :-/ can we say double standard?
  • Laura I am me 2012/04/11 04:21:32
    Laura
    +2
    THANK YOU! So nice to see someone else pointing out what I have been saying forever!
  • I am me 2012/04/10 21:16:51
    I am me
    +2
    Ugh! While I'm on the fence about making it a civil right. The comparison between deficating in public and breastfeeding in public because they are both "natural" has to be the most asinine comparison i have ever read. And only stupid people make it. Going to the bathroom in public is a health hazard, breastfeeding is not. So please if you are going to make an argument against at least use your brain and find a different comparison (and no having sex in public is not the same thing either).
  • GINGERBREAD 2012/04/10 20:33:49
    GINGERBREAD
    +1
    Why should everything become a "CIVIL RIGHT"? These liberals, socialists and communists want everything to be a "CIVIL RIGHT". It's a "CIVIL RIGHT" for every body to own a home? Right or wrong? It's a "CIVIL RIGHT" for every body to have "MEDICAL INSURANCE"? Right or wrong? It's a "CIVIL RIGHT" for people to demonstrate and destroy everything in their path? Right or wrong? It's a "CIVIL RIGHT" for the government to take some body's property, in order to give it to somebody else, to make things more "EQUAL"? Come on, people, while these liberals, socialists and communists are claiming every thing as a "CIVIL RIGHT", they are stealing your freedom, right from under your noses
  • Nestofa... GINGERB... 2012/04/11 01:11:26
    Nestofasssps
    The laws are already in place,
    Forty-five states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location. (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.)
    Twenty-eight states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws. (Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.)
    Twenty-four states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have laws related to breastfeeding in the workplace. (Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, ...

    The laws are already in place,
    Forty-five states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location. (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.)
    Twenty-eight states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws. (Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.)
    Twenty-four states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have laws related to breastfeeding in the workplace. (Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.)
    Twelve states and Puerto Rico exempt breastfeeding mothers from jury duty. (California, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon and Virginia.)
    Five states and Puerto Rico have implemented or encouraged the development of a breastfeeding awareness education campaign. (California, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri and Vermont.)
    (more)
  • GINGERB... Nestofa... 2012/04/11 14:49:53
    GINGERBREAD
    Fine, let the states handle it. Why would the federal government be involved in this, and make it a "CIVIL RIGHT"?
  • Nestofa... GINGERB... 2012/04/12 00:51:55
    Nestofasssps
    Congress decided it in 1999. Not me, ask them, it IS a civil right. you might wanna roll it back, but hey good luck with that.
  • Abby 2012/04/10 20:33:06
    Abby
    +1
    I don't think this should be a civil right at all...and i'm for a lot of things but not this. this is going to far. what is wrong with people these days.
  • D'eath 2012/04/10 20:25:55
    D'eath
    +3
    I've seen people eating lunch in all sorts of public places.

    Why are we picking on infants, trying to stop them having lunch in the park?
  • Cold Warrior 2012/04/10 20:11:57
    Cold Warrior
    A civil right? Oh for f***s sake, what next. People need to stop the self righteous indignation over every perceived, imaginary slight. Theres nothing wrong with breast feeding a baby in public, just have some respect for others, be a little discreet if the situation calls for it. A civil right gimme a break, what next a million boobie march on DC.
  • J 2012/04/10 19:54:09
    J
    +1
    How utterly stupid! I breastfed my kids. I didn't have to plop my boob out in front of anybody to do it. These women have no desire simply to feed their child, but rather to get their 15 mins of fame. That and some women just have not tact. By the way, I have six (yes six) sisters and all but one breast fed their children. This isn't and never has been an issue. A CIVIL RIGHT!!! Why do I respect men so much - -- because there are just too many stupid women out there!
  • Laura J 2012/04/11 04:29:08
    Laura
    +1
    I am not sure what this has to do with people showing off boobs or whatever. I am a huge breastfeeding advocate and I am all for as much help and rights for bf women as possible because every day, women are still being discriminated against for breastfeeding, even when done quietly and discreetely. I do think women's rights need to protected and I also feel that breastfeeding needs more support and needs to be normalized. The amount of women who breastfeed in America is sad. Many women don't get past the first few weeks. If we had more support, understanding and a sense of normalcy about it, maybe the rates of breastfeeding would be higher.
  • J Laura 2012/04/12 19:46:26
    J
    Good lord, where have you been? The only people who say that women are "being discriminated against because of breastfeeding" are those who have never breastfed or are simply wanting attention. I have six successful sisters who breastfed - some took more leave to stay home with their babies, but all were able to hold on to their jobs without any negative repercussions (unlike a man who would take off with his child). Who doesn't support breastfeeding -those women who know that it can be done discretely and modestly but aren't getting their 15 mins? Many women don't bet past the first few weeks because of actual physical/medical issues. Even with the little rubber things, my daughters nipples were too large, and my daughter-in-law just didn't have her milk come down with her second son. Things happen - that is why we have had wet-nurses for centuries. BTW, there is nothing more normal than breastfeeding.
  • Laura J 2012/04/13 02:57:04
    Laura
    Why are you going off on me? You are completely wrong that women are not discriminated against for breastfeeding. I am not saying it happens everywhere...but it does happen. And I am the FIRST person who will say that issues can occur when breastfeeding, but with the proper support and information (which is unfortunately, often not available) most issues can be improved or fixed completely. My mother breastfed myself and my siblings and I grew up knowing I would breastfeed. Unfortunately, my milk never came in (or at least not in the normal way). I did go from expressing drops of yellow liquid to drops of whitish liquid but had no engorement and could express very little. My little man was dehydrated and I had no choice but to supplement with a bit of forumla after 3 days of him literally being attached to my boob every 5 mins but not producing wet/dirty diapers. I worked my ass off to build up a supply and I was never able to be exclusive. I was able to, over time learn a TON of information that I had NO knowledge of before beginning breastfeeding. This information has actually helped me to help other women successfuly breastfeed. In my case, this info (although I am sure it would have helped some) may not have helped a ton as my lack of milk production was most lik...
    Why are you going off on me? You are completely wrong that women are not discriminated against for breastfeeding. I am not saying it happens everywhere...but it does happen. And I am the FIRST person who will say that issues can occur when breastfeeding, but with the proper support and information (which is unfortunately, often not available) most issues can be improved or fixed completely. My mother breastfed myself and my siblings and I grew up knowing I would breastfeed. Unfortunately, my milk never came in (or at least not in the normal way). I did go from expressing drops of yellow liquid to drops of whitish liquid but had no engorement and could express very little. My little man was dehydrated and I had no choice but to supplement with a bit of forumla after 3 days of him literally being attached to my boob every 5 mins but not producing wet/dirty diapers. I worked my ass off to build up a supply and I was never able to be exclusive. I was able to, over time learn a TON of information that I had NO knowledge of before beginning breastfeeding. This information has actually helped me to help other women successfuly breastfeed. In my case, this info (although I am sure it would have helped some) may not have helped a ton as my lack of milk production was most likely due to PCOS. I also figured out when my little man was 9 months old that he had a posterior tongue tie...this probably contributed in the early weeks to my lack of milk production as he was most likely unable to massage the milk ducts properly. But now I have that knowledge and I can help other women figure out if this may be an issue with their child. This type of toungue tie is much harder to diagnose and see...my sons doctor and lactation consultant both missed it. After a ton a reasearch, I did eventually take him to a specialist who positivly identified the issues and gave me tips and exercises to help him stretch it out (as he was older and couldnt simply clip it. He would have needed an actual operation). There is just so much information that I am aware of now (and am SO excited to use with my next child) that can help a woman get through the rough patches in breastfeeding. The fact is that most issues, unless caused by an underlying medical cause can be completely overcome with the proper support and information and even those cause my an underlying medical issue can be overcome to a certain degree. There are things people can do if they choose to. I personally, think that more information and support should be passed out to new mommys. Maybe if hospitals had better trained maternity nurses and greater access to qualified lactation consiltants INSTEAD of leaving free samples of formula around a newly breastfeeding mom, more women would be able to push through.
    (more)
  • J Laura 2012/04/16 20:47:39
    J
    I think what you say you want to do is wonderful. This really isn't the issue that most women have with "breastfeeding discrimination". What they want is to be able to plop their titties out anywhere and then whine when others look. Sorry, women have had boobs forever and men have been looking at them forever. Even having a baby sucking it won't deter them from looking. And that, too, is as natural as breastfeeding.

    But, like I say, it can be done tactfully and tastefully. And I have NO problem with educating women on things that can help in breastfeeding.
  • Laura J 2012/04/17 01:26:50 (edited)
    Laura
    I personally have not experienced what you are discussing. Every woman I have ever personally known (or seen nursing in public) either nursed under a cover or was able to latch and nurse discreetely without revealing too much skin. I have never seen a woman who did not try to be discreet and not show off their breasts. :-)
  • Maleficent 2012/04/10 19:43:44
    Maleficent
    +2
    people should be able to breast feed. but when they do, they should put a shirt over them to do so.
  • Hotcho 2012/04/10 17:38:20
    Hotcho
    +1
    Breastfeeding Should Be a Civil Right Yes, but just to make it Fair..Blowjobs should too....That's Public Blow jobs just to differentiate
  • Laura Hotcho 2012/04/10 17:50:44
    Laura
    +2
    Yes...because feeding your hungry baby in public and sexual pleasure in public are exactly the same thing......where did you come up with that logic?
  • Hotcho Laura 2012/04/10 19:49:20
    Hotcho
    +1
    Who said it has anything to do with Logic..Both are normal biological functions
  • J Hotcho 2012/04/10 19:56:04
    J
    Then again, so is having a bowel movement. That is something that keeps our body purified - so why don't we do that in public as well. (I breast fed my kids BTW)
  • I am me J 2012/04/10 21:17:56
    I am me
    +2
    Because breastfeeding isn't a health hazard as taking a crap on the street is. :-/
  • J I am me 2012/04/12 19:47:39
    J
    Then we need to have a mandate or law that there must be a flushable john on every corner of the street - just in case.
  • Hotcho J 2012/04/11 03:39:30
    Hotcho
    +1
    Some people do..remember the demonstration on Wall street a few months back
  • J Hotcho 2012/04/12 19:47:03
    J
    You are right!
  • Hotcho Laura 2012/04/10 19:51:36
    Hotcho
    By the way sweetie, get a sense of humor..

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