Senate committee votes to lift age cap on public breastfeeding

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 11:50am

State senators voted Wednesday to allow mothers to breastfeed children of any age in public, setting aside concerns that it might open the door to “weird things” involving bar patrons.

Tennessee is one of 44 states with laws allowing a woman to breastfeed in public, but it’s the only state with an age limit for the child. Under current law, mothers risk indecent exposure charges if they publicly breastfeed a child who is older than 12 months.

“Why in the world would a breastfeeding mother be charged with indecent exposure for breastfeeding her child? Why would that be the business of the state of Tennessee? Who’s going to ID the child to determine whether or not they’re 1 year? So that was the impetus for bringing this bill,” Sen. Mike Faulk, R-Kingsport, told the Senate General Welfare, Health and Human Resources Committee.

But Sen. Bo Watson, R-Chattanooga, said he worries that, by lifting the age limit entirely, the bill might have unintended consequences.

“Is 35 a child?” he asked. “I know that sounds crazy but I’m thinking of how an attorney would use this in a situation in a bar where maybe things got a little crazy or whatever. … I know I’m way out on the fringe … but weird things happen in our society.”

Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, agreed the law should set an age limit. “There are a lot of crazy people in the world,” he said. His amendment to limit breastfeeding to children under the age of 3 failed.

“I’m afraid the abnormal psychology classes are going to be studying [the committee’s proceedings] if we don’t move on pretty soon,” Sen. Roy Herron, D-Dresden, complained as the debate continued. “This legislation, if adopted, will provide a mother has a right to breastfeed her child. It’s only her child. It’s not any child, and it’s not anybody else.”

“I feel like all of us, we were weaned too soon and we’re obsessed with it,” he added. “Let’s just move on.”

The committee voted 7-1 for the bill, which already has won House approval.

28 Comments on this post:

By: treehugger7 on 3/16/11 at 1:16

I'm so glad they are focused like a laser on jobs! Come on!

By: mickeyw on 3/16/11 at 7:41

Maybe it is time for them to come home and close up shop. 12 months is fine, leave it alone, get to work, or come home.

By: Loner on 3/17/11 at 6:17

Sen. Bo Watson said, "I know I’m way out on the fringe … but weird things happen in our society.”

I agree. Things like electing a clueless idiot, like Bo Watson, to elected office is a prime example of "weird things happening in our society".

Any bets that Bo goes home at night and then visits the porn sites, on a regular basis? Bo Watson sounds like a full-load hypocrite and a phony baloney.

By: fdanshep on 3/17/11 at 7:20

First of all, I do not know Bo Watson from Dr. Watson but his concerns would be shared by many, not necessarily just in a bar setting. I for one would not like to be in a restaurant sitting in direct view of a child, more than an infant, nursing. Do I share the "lovely experince" of seeing a child nursing or go out of my way to appear to not even know that the nursing is taking place. I would do the second but it would likely still cause discomfort and affect my enjoyment of my meal. I suspect that I am in the majority on this.

By not having a limit the owner of the establishment is put in a precarious position. Customers are asking for different seating or if he asks the mother to refrain or leave he is puting himself square in the cross-hairs of a lawsuit. What if the mother is there to specifically test the law? Randy, step up on this!

Finally, Loner I don't know if you are a feminist or a male? Your solicitation of bets on whether Bo goes home at night and regularly visits porn sites is accepted. I'm betting that the chances of him doing that is a lot less than you.........

By: treehugger7 on 3/17/11 at 7:33

How did we manage before the repubs took over? The bills they have brought to the floor are SOOO important! Remember the unemplyoment rate, anybody?? Oh, wait, there's probably a job out there policing breastfeeding. That'll put somebody to work! Any takers on this board?

By: BigPapa on 3/17/11 at 8:05

I think an age limit is appropriate. Probably not something people like to talk about but if you leave this wide open it will be challenged. Best to spell it alll out in the law rather than let it evolve through wacky court cases.

By: Captain Nemo on 3/17/11 at 8:19

It is people like these so-call lawmakers that makes me want to change my citizenships. LOL

Where are the jobs they promised?

By: zmania on 3/17/11 at 8:35

What in the world! I never knew there was such a stupid law. They need to stop worrying about a woman's body and and give tennesseans those jobs they promised before the elections. Our taxes at work. Its a shame.

By: Captain Nemo on 3/17/11 at 8:37

People that are so peculiar about the feeding habits of babies should one; stay at home, two don’t look.

By: Antisocialite on 3/17/11 at 9:15

I for one would not like to be in a restaurant sitting in direct view of a child, more than an infant, nursing.

Well I don't like being in a restaurant surrounded by fat slobs who stuff their faces full at warp speed and are rude to the wait staff, but I guess I'll just have to deal with it. Just like others will just have to deal with the discomfort that stems from noticing the MOST NATURAL THING A BABY HUMAN CAN DO. Jeez, what kind of puritanical upbringing did you guys have that makes you feel uncomfortable seeing a breast functioning in the manner it has evolved to (or designed to, for all you 'intelligent design' advocates).

By: Captain Nemo on 3/17/11 at 9:32

Antisocialite, I am afraid that in Tennessee it is in fashion to turn up your nose at anything that does not make you feel comfortable. People are so fixed on how everyone else looks and should act.

It keeps them from having to think about the real problems.

By: Loretta Bridge on 3/17/11 at 9:41

When will you pass a law that tells us how many times we can have sex with our spouses?
When will you pass a law that tells us how many meals we can eat in 24 hours?
When will you pass a law that tells me how many miles I can drive a day?
When will you pass a law that tells me how many times I can discipline my children?
WHEN IS THE NEXT ELECTION???????????

By: BigPapa on 3/17/11 at 10:18

There are a lot of things that are natural but I dont want to see them take place.

By: NewYorker1 on 3/17/11 at 10:25

I hate when I'm out somewhere and see baby and the father breastfeeding.

By: Captain Nemo on 3/17/11 at 10:38

lol NY1

By: Antisocialite on 3/17/11 at 10:39

There are a lot of things that are natural but I dont want to see them take place.

Then don't look BigPapa. It seems simple enough, yet people act as if these mothers are sitting down on top their table and letting their baby feed.

You conservatives sure do love your freedom... except when someone uses that freedom to do something that offends your oh-so-delicate sensibilities.

By: brrrrk on 3/17/11 at 10:42

All I've got to say is.....12!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What normal mother breastfeeds a 12 year old????

By: Captain Nemo on 3/17/11 at 10:54

Truth is something some people don’t like to see.

By: brrrrk on 3/17/11 at 10:55

Antisocialite said

"You conservatives sure do love your freedom... except when someone uses that freedom to do something that offends your oh-so-delicate sensibilities."

Boy Howdy, ain't that the truth! Perfect example: I sit in a cubicle next to some big (as in when I get up out of my chair I have to catch my breathe) uber right wing tea bagger who constantly complains about the government telling him what to do.... and yet, the other morning he came in ranting that the government should ban blue halogen headlights because he doesn't like the looks of them.

By: brrrrk on 3/17/11 at 11:05

brrrrk said

"All I've got to say is.....12!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What normal mother breastfeeds a 12 year old????"

Oops, it appears that I have jumped the gun somewhat by stating "12 year old"... but at the same time I think Watson has a point (God, I hate to say that).... an unrestricted age limit would introduce some interesting and unintended results. Personally I think a reasonable age limit is perfectly legit. How about the age at which the child enters school?

By: Captain Nemo on 3/17/11 at 11:06

I took your advice gdia and now I am sitting with any close or shoes on.

By: Captain Nemo on 3/17/11 at 11:08

opps-

I took your advice gdia and now I am sitting with OUT any CLOTHS or shoes on.

By: Captain Nemo on 3/17/11 at 11:09

oops not opps

By: Captain Nemo on 3/17/11 at 11:10

How about 77?

By: Captain Nemo on 3/17/11 at 11:12

Never mind this is the wrong thread anyway. I am so red faced.

By: Loner on 3/17/11 at 3:24

Shep sez: "Finally, Loner I don't know if you are a feminist or a male?"

Both, Shep, both.

That was a rhetorical wager, Shep. Unlike the pious Bo Watson and the other born-again theocrats, I do not pose as some model of moral decency and I don't try to shove my ideas about decency down anyone's throat.

It seems like its always the Bo Watson types that we read about in the papers...soliciting a prostitute, gay trysts, cheating etc. I'm sure that Bo Watson is no plaster saint....somebody ought to tail that guy and expose him for what he is....I smell a phony.

By: budlight on 3/17/11 at 5:07

Loretta Bridge on 3/17/11 at 9:41
When will you pass a law that tells us how many times we can have sex with our spouses?
When will you pass a law that tells us how many meals we can eat in 24 hours?
When will you pass a law that tells me how many miles I can drive a day?
When will you pass a law that tells me how many times I can discipline my children?
WHEN IS THE NEXT ELECTION???????????

Loretta, they are working on those. Stay tuned. ha, ha.
I've got a new idea for a new law: People who work have to pass a drug (urine) test on most jobs. People on welfare don't have to pass a urine test for their money. How about a urine test for drugs for those who apply and receive welfare.

By: pswindle on 3/17/11 at 7:54

Good Gosh! Leave the Mother and their babies alone. Some children need longer if ther is a medical problem. I can't believe the GOP.