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Sun Article on Breastfeeding in Maryland

Dana Silver, M.D. in the Baltimore Sun, August 20, 2013:

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and breast-feeding for at least a year or longer as long as mutually desired by mother and baby. The AAP also states: “The decision to breastfeed is … a basic and critical health decision regarding infant welfare.”

Despite the tremendous progress we have seen in Maryland and across the country, some still feel that breastfeeding in public is somehow “indecent.” Maryland law states: “A mother may breastfeed her child in any public or private location in which the mother and child are authorized to be. A person may not restrict or limit the right of a mother to breastfeed her child.” All 50 states and the District of Columbia have similar laws.

The code section to which Dr. Silver referred is section 20-801 of the Health-General article of the Code.

My general inclination towards legal micromanagement of commercial life is one of skepticism. But the compelling equities of feeding an infant, the health benefits to that child and the ability of nursing mothers to travel without having to pre-express, bottle, refrigerate and schlepp the nutrition for their infants trump the “weirded-out” feelings of an immature few who never got equally weirded out at the existence of much more revealing Ocean City (or Harborplace) beachwear. In my view, it’s the equivalent of allowing a “trespass” on private property for grounds of common-law necessity. Regardless of what I think, it’s the law in this State.

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