On June 11, 2009, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (NY) and Senator Jeff Merkley (OR) introduced the Breastfeeding Promotion Act in both houses of Congress. The purpose of this bill is to provide a unified national policy to keep mothers, their children, and their communities healthy. In the past, a similar bill has been presented to the House, but this is the first time the bill has been introduced in the Senate.
The United States Breastfeeding Committee has posted contact information so that interested parties can let their representatives and senators know they want to see this bill passed.
The Breastfeeding Promotion Act (H.R. 2819, S. 1244) includes five provisions:
1. Amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect breastfeeding women from being fired or discriminated against in the workplace.
2. Provides tax incentives for businesses that establish private lactation areas in the workplace, or provide breastfeeding equipment or consultation services to their employees.
3. Provides for a performance standard to ensure breast pumps are safe and effective.
4. Allows breastfeeding equipment and consultation services to be tax deductible for families (amends Internal Revenue Code definition of "medical care").
5. Protects the privacy of breastfeeding mothers by ensuring they have break time and a private place to pump (applies to employers with 50 or more employees, see text of legislation for details).
If you want to read the full text of the bill, you can do so here.
In light of President Obama's speech today calling for increased attention to prevention of disease, this is the perfect time for this bill to receive widespread attention. The well-documented health benefits of breastfeeding are a crucial component of a prevention-based medical model. Make sure your congressional delegates move to embrace this bill!