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April 22, 2009 1:10 PM

Right to breast feed in public signed into state law

Posted by Jennifer Sullivan

A proposal that protects a mother's right to breast-feed in public was signed into law today by Gov. Chris Gregoire.

House Bill 1596, which protects the right of a mother to breast-feed "in a place of public resort, accommodation, assemblage, or amusement," passed the House last month and the Senate earlier this month. It was sponsored by Rep. Tami Green, D-Lakewood.

Before the measure, women in Washington state could be asked to leave public places and feed their children in a bathroom or another private establishment. Under the new law, which will go into effect this summer, breast-feeding in public is a civil right, subject to the state's anti-discrimination law.

Public places include shopping malls, restaurants and hospitals. Women discriminated against under the law can file a complaint with the state' Human Rights Commission.

Green told The Times in February that she wants to make sure "infants in our state ... are getting the very best brain food they can get," and she wants women to be comfortable feeding babies wherever they are.

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Andrew Garber
Covers politics and state government from Olympia.

Jennifer Sullivan
Covers the state Legislature from Olympia.

Chantal Anderson
Covers the state Legislature from Olympia.

Emily Heffter
Writes about the city of Seattle and local politics.

Mike Lindblom
Covers transportation.

Jim Brunner
Writes about money and power from Seattle.