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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Reintroducing the US Breastfeeding Promotion Act

The last time a lactivist event happened in Manila was in June 2007 when Filipino breastfeeding advocates trooped to the Supreme Court and bared their breasts just before the oral arguments in connection with the Milk Code. I was 3 months pregnant with Naima then -- in the midst of all-day sickness -- and not even contemplating breastfeeding yet. The Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations on the Milk Code has been partially upheld by the Supreme Court and what is currently pending is a bill sponsored by Sen. Pia Cayetano entitled "Expanded Breastfeeding Act of 2007".
In the US, the Breastfeeding Promotion Act will be reintroduced on June 3, 2009 and an email (copy pasted below) has been circulating asking for lactivist presence during the presscon on that day. An essential point in the US bill which is not in the Philippine bill would be the performance standard for breastpump equipment.
In Sen. Pia's bill, she proposes the establishment of lactation stations and lactation periods (e.g. lactation break). Tax breaks had been previously granted under "The Rooming-In and Breastfeeding Act of 1992." However, even if the law (and incentive) has been in existence for more than 15 years, lactation programs are not yet well-established in majority of workplaces (private or government). Here's hoping that Sen. Pia's bill will pass into law and lactation programs (particularly in my workplace :D) will shortly be established.

To all breastfeeding activists/lactivists/concerned citizens!

Rep. Carolyn Maloney is going to reintroduce the Breastfeeding Promotion Act to Congress in June. With a change in leadership in both Houses and a White House that is attuned to work/life balance issues, this year we need to push hard for passage! The Breastfeeding Promotion Act will:
* Add breastfeeding mothers in the workplace as a protected class under the Civil Rights Act of 1964
* Provide incentives for employers to have private lactation areas for workers
* Create a performance standard for breastpump equipment
* Create tax deductions for pumping equipment

Rep. Maloney and other co-sponsors will hold a press conference on June 3rd at 11:30am on the Cannon Terrace at the Cannon Building on Capitol Hill. Once again we are gathering as large a presence as we can to attend the press conference in support of the bill.

Here is what we need from all who care about this issue:

First, we need you to contact your Rep. in the Congress (find him or her here ), this week, and ask them to sign on as a cosponsor of the Breastfeeding Promotion Act. The more cosponsors a bill has, the more attention and support it garners. We need all 435 Representatives to know how important this bill is to the 70% of mothers who work and may desire to breastfeed once they go back to work. So call AND email your Representative and ask to speak to a legislative aide today.

Second, we need anyone within driving distance of Washington, D.C. to make plans to join us on June 3rd at 11:30 am on the Cannon Terrace at the Cannon Office Building,Independence Avenue and 1st Street, SE, Washington, DC 20003. You can drive in if you are willing to come early enough to hunt for parking spot south of the Cannon Bldg. or take Metro to the Capitol South station on the Blue/Orange lines. This link shows a picture of the terrace where we will meet.

We need pregnant and nursing mother, their supportive partners, grandparents and all your cute little nurslings and toddlers to join us that day for the press conference. At previous introductions of the bill we have had between 100-200 attendees at the press conference. We would like an even bigger showing this year. It is very important that you RSVP to with the number of adults/babies/children attending so we can be prepared (and have enough kid friendly snacks/drinks on hand). And so that I can email final details to all the night before the event.

Third, we need everyone who attends to plan on visiting the offices of their Representative in Congress immediately after the press conference, to personally appeal to them to throw their support behind the bill and sign on as an original co-sponsor. Don't let the opportunity to have face to face interaction with your legislators pass you by. Last time I went I had a very spirited conversation with a young female legislative aide who clearly didn't understand why her boss should care about this bill. The House of Representatives link above will give you the address of their Washington office. All of the legislative office buildings are clustered near Cannon Office Building. If you call ahead you can make an appointment (I would suggest you make an after lunch appt. time and go get some lunch with your kids after the press conference) to speak to someone.

Lastly, if you have a workplace lactation discrimination story you would like to share at the press conference please email immediately. The speakers lineup is being put together now and some mothers may be invited to talk about their own stories.

This is the year to get this done! Please forward this message to every breastfeeding, parenting, working parent list and group to which you belong, just keep the contact info intact.

Thanks all,

Lorrie Leigh, AAHCC

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