State Law – Right to Breastfeed
You have the right to breastfeed any place you have the right to be! This is the law in every state in the United States, except Idaho.
But if the law doesn’t offer legal protection, then your rights may have limitations. The property rights of others may override your right to breastfeed.
Right now, Texas law states you have the right to breastfeed any place you have the right to be, but it does not provide legal protection for breastfeeding moms. You may be asked to breastfeed in the restroom or leave a business. If this happens, you have no legal recourse under the current law. For the last few sessions of the Texas legislature, Rep. Jessica Farrar has filed a bill to add legal protection to the law – it just hasn’t made it to the House floor yet.
Current Texas breastfeeding laws:
Tex. Health Code Ann. § 161.071 (2001) requires the Department of Health to establish minimum guidelines for the procurement, processing, distribution, or use of human milk by donor milk banks. (HB 391)
Tex. Health Code Ann. § 165.002 (1995) authorizes a woman to breastfeed her child in any location.
Tex. Health Code Ann. § 165.003 et seq. provides for the use of a “mother-friendly” designation for businesses who have policies supporting worksite breastfeeding (HB 340). The law provides for a worksite breastfeeding demonstration project and requires the Department of Health to develop recommendations supporting worksite breastfeeding. (HB 359)
Public Indecency Laws
According to Justia Legal Resources, breastfeeding in public is not considered indecent exposure under U.S. law.
Texas indecent exposure law (Texas Penal Code, Title 5, Chapter 21, Section 21.08) states that it is a sexual offense to expose your anus or any part of your genitals with the intent to arouse the sexual desire of any person, and in the process be reckless about whether another person who is present may be alarmed or offended by this act. Unwanted touching (groping or rape) is considered sexual assault. The law does not mention exposure of breasts.
Texas has no laws specifically forbidding non-sexual public nudity.
A Dallas/Fort Worth law firm’s website gives common examples of indecent exposure that includes “sunbathing topless, or exposing female breasts” and then states “However, a mother breastfeeding her child or baby in public is not considered indecent exposure for criminal purposes.”
Texas State Parks rule (Title 31, Part 2, Chapter 59, Rule 59.131) defines public nudity in state parks – “To disrobe or appear nude in public. Females are considered to be disrobed when their breasts below the top of the areola are exposed except when nursing a baby.”
Working and Breastfeeding Law – Affordable Care Act
Right now, federal law covering working breastfeeding mothers is found in Section 4207 of the Affordable Care Act:
- An employer shall provide:
- Reasonable break time for an employee to express breastmilk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express milk.
- A place other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breastmilk.
- An employer shall not be required to compensate an employee receiving reasonable break time under paragraph 1 for any work time spent for such purpose.
- An employer that employs less than 50 employees shall not be subject to the requirements of this subsection, if such requirements would impose an undue hardship by causing the employer significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature or structure of the employer’s business.
- Nothing in this subsection shall preempt a State law that provides greater protections to employees than the protections provided for under this subsection.
If the Affordable Care Act is repealed, this requirement may not be carried over in the replacement bill.
Information on “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” Law
Includes a list of organizations that provide support related to workplace lactation accommodation and discrimination.