Friday, October 22, 2010

Take Action: Help Michigan Moms Pass HB 5155

I have been breastfeeding for five years. I’ve nursed in the proverbial plane, train, and automobile. I’ve nursed on buses, subways, and boats. I’ve breastfed in 18 states and the District of Columbia. I’ve nursed at the statue of Liberty, on the Golden Gate Bridge, and in Disney World. I had never once been approached and had my right to breastfeed challenged. Until last week.

I was picking up my five year old, Lilly, from Kindergarten. I woke up Caroline, my 18 month old, to go in and get her. She leaned over to nurse, I nursed her. Several minutes later, as I was standing and nursing Caroline in the hallway waiting for Lilly to come out, the principal approached me and said that if I wanted to nurse while at the school, I would need to go to the clinic. I politely refused. I guess, in the back of my mind, I had been waiting for this moment.

In Michigan, breastfeeding mothers have little protection under the law. We can’t be arrested for public indecency, but the principal was well within her rights to ask me to go to the clinic or leave. Most businesses, especially large corporations (i.e. Target or Delta Airlines) have realized that offending breastfeeding mothers is not good for the bottom line. Public arenas though, especially schools, have not had reason to welcome us.

Last November, the Michigan House Judiciary Committee passed House Bill 5155 out of committee. This bill would add breastfeeding mothers and children to the state’s Civil Rights Act. Even though the bill has the support of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, it has languished on the House floor waiting to be brought up for a vote.

I cheered when the bill passed out of the committee, and then I waited. Supporters kept saying, “ It can be brought up for vote at any time.” I’d check on the bill once in a while, but nothing. My recent experience as the spark, I contacted several people involved in sponsoring the bill and involved in the legislative process.

If Michigan HB 5155 is not brought up for a vote in the next 6-8 weeks, it will die and then need to be reintroduced next year. All of the hard work involved in finally getting a breastfeeding bill out of committee will be for naught. Breastfeeding mothers in Michigan will continue to be challenged, embarrassed, and ostracized.

It is time for us to stop waiting for others to advocate for us. Breastfeeding mothers, spouses, parents and friends of breastfeeding mothers, and those who care about civil rights and public health need to come together in a grassroots effort to demand that this bill be brought up for a vote and then passed into law.

Here's What Readers Can Do to Help

  1. "Like" Our Facebook Page: We have started a Facebook page – Pass Michigan House Bill 5515 (HB 5515). Please “like” us and check our status updates daily! 
  2. Call a Representative: Each day of the week, we will be calling a different member of the House Leadership. Your message can be simple. “Please bring House Bill 5515 up for a vote. Breastfeeding mothers and babies need this protection.” Here is a list of the members of the House Leadership and their phone numbers. 
  3. Share Your Story: Check out our website. Share your story here if you have been discriminated against while breastfeeding.
  4. Write a Representative: We have sample emails and letters available on both the website and our facebook page. You can use the links on the facebook page to find your State Representative and Senator. 

We need your help even if you are not a Michigan resident. You may be traveling through our “Pleasant Peninsula" one day and need to take advantage of the rights House Bill 5155 would provide.
We need to demand that House Bill 5155 be brought up for a vote and passed into law. I do not want my daughters dealing with this issue twenty-five years from now!

Many thanks to readers who respond to and act on our call for help. Michigan mamas and babies will benefit for generations to come!

We are proud to help in the efforts to pass HB 5155. This post was written by Monica Kulaga. Monica is supported by her husband, James, and two wonderful girls, Lilly and Caroline. They live in Madison Heights, Michigan. Monica is a former middle school math teacher and current stay-at-home mom. She is passionate about all things breastfeeding.


Let's band together and make the world a better place for our children! Hugs to Monica and all the nursing moms.

If this article made you angry don't sit and stew...TAKE ACTION!!!!!!!

Has anything happened on this bill yet?

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