CHARLESTON, W.Va.–The House of Delegates Health Committee has passed a bill (H.B. 4335) legally establishing a woman’s right to breastfeed in public.  West Virginia is one of the only states that does not provide for that protection in code.

The legislation  has been introduced a number of times in recent years, but has failed to clear both houses.  During Wednesday’s committee meeting, Del. Barbara Fleischauer (D-Monongalia) urged lawmakers to approve it.

“The best food for the baby is breastfeeding,” Fleishauer said, and she blamed advertising for discouraging women from breastfeeding.

“We have had a lot of advertising for years, trying to convince women to use formula instead of the best food for the baby,” Fleischauer said.

As proposed, the bill says a mother may breastfeed in any location open to the public, provided that the mother uses discretion.

The bill now goes to the House Judiciary Committee.

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  • Christopher

    Well, if you really look at, I the old law states that a mother could be charged with indecent exposure. I wonder how/when breasts became classified medically? Same thing with giving birth, it is not a medical procedure, it is an act of nature. So, being as such, I do not see how this is made to be such a big deal. My wife feeds where ever she is when our baby gets hungry, period. She doesn't (or tries not to) expose herself. People that dislike it can piss of and go somewhere else, don't want to see it then don't look!

  • TJW

    Regardless of how you feel about where the "right place" is for breastfeeding, the wording in this bill is problematic. "Uses discretion" is the reason why this bill has not passed for years in West Virginia. With this language, basically the burden of decision goes to the restaurant server, the mall security cop, the clerk in Victoria's Secret, etc. to decide what is "appropriate" and can still ask the mother to leave. If the wording is not changed, we will still have problems in West Virginia with this antiquated issue. We aren't asking to shimmy our chests around for everyone to see. However, we shouldn't have to cover up in a way that hinders breastfeeding for the baby. I mean, healthy babies are what we all want here, right?

  • Irritated in Cabell County

    It seems like WV just can't get over its absurdity. The discretion language needs out of this bill. You want to encourage breastfeeding? Normalize it. Breastfeeding mothers should be unremarkable not ostracized. Boobs are for feeding babies. A breastfeeding mother shows less that a Victoria Secret model, but very few think twice about their billboards and advertisements. Some babies won't tolerate a cover. How about we just start covering the heads of those who are offended by breastfeeding instead of the child who doesn't understand.

  • griff

    My husband & I were eating at the Ranch house restaurant near Craigsville WV & a woman was breastfeeding her child as she walked around the restaurant. THAT IS UNCALLED FOR. She could have least stayed sitting in the booth. I breast fed my child but I was discreet. There are lots of places that a baby can be nursed without being in the public eye.

    • Felicia

      There is nothing wrong with a mother feeding her child freely. I feel very sorry for you. Some children get restless while feeding and have trouble so it's easier for the mother to walk to soothe them while feeding. There is no reason that should be looked down upon. If you are uncomfortable, look the other way.

    • susanf1218

      Absolutely agree! Breastfeeding in public can be done discreetly and modestly and no one should be offended by it. But walking around in the restaurant or anywhere else w/one's breast exposed and a baby attached to it is unnecessary and makes the whole issue of breastfeeding in public more controversial than need be. Sit down, cover up w/a light blanket or shawl and nurse your baby! But don't parade around w/everything just hanging out there!

      • Christopher

        Maybe some children need motion to keep them settled, being in a public place may cause a child some distress where walking may sooth the child. While understandably it may not be something everybody wants to see while eating, not every place has a private feeding booth.

      • mpwilson

        Not trying to be rude but what if your baby hates a cover and won't eat with their head covered. My daughter will scream bloody murder when I try to use anything to cover her. I have walked around stores feeding her without a cover and my breast was not showing... Its called being in a hurry. Plus many stores don't have places for you to just sit and feed a baby.. If they do its outside and in the front of the door which is entirely to cold.

  • Amanda

    I currently breastfeed my child and have done so in public and have gotten strange glances but never rude comments or told to leave. I'm glad that this is passing ! No woman should have to feed their baby in the restroom (no one should be eating in there!) or in a cold car unless its her choice. I've done it out n the open or in fitting rooms if available. It's not a sexual thing and we need to quit treating it as such. You see girls running around in less than what is seen when a woman breastfeeds, especially in Morgantown!

  • raci

    I live in WV and I have never encountered any negativity to me breastfeeding period and I have breastfed all 3 of my girls and when they are hungry they are hungry period from restaurants to church. If anything I have had more people praise me for doing what is best for my babies especially older women.

  • Ellen

    Well that explains a lot. I'm from Kansas and on a road trip to Pennsylvania we stopped at a Cracker Barrel in W. Va and I fed my 4 month old. In 3 years of nursing 2 kids, I've never encountered even a sideways look, but I felt like everyone in the place was giving me the evil eye. Perhaps this is one of those laws that is sadly necessary.

    • Mason County Contrarian

      Maybe we should outlaw "giving the evil eye".

  • 1hillbilly

    Man , this article is making me hungry !!

  • Plopaganda

    Why do we even need to bother with a law on this? This should just be naturally accepted because, you know, it's natural.

    • susanf1218

      So are lots of other bodily functions and activities but we don't want to see them in public, now do we? I have no problem w/women breastfeeding in public as long as it is done discreetly w/o giving everyone else a peep show. It is the militant mommas who make a fuss about it and demand their rights to breastfeeding whenever, wherever and w/no consideration for modesty and discretion that has caused this legislation to be necessary.

      • Heather

        Actually your wrong! I am one of the mothers that "demanded" this and I do breastfeed where, when, and discreetly! It is not about showing as much skin as I can but it is about the rights of my child to eat when she needs to eat. You have rights and so should I as a BF mother! I am giving my child the best nourishment and I should have the right to do that wherever I am and not in a nasty germ filled restroom. I don't like to sit on a dirty floor or toilet seat to feed my child :(

        • susanf1218

          You apparently did not read my post in its entirety, or you didn't understand what I said, which was that I have no problem w/women breastfeeding in public, as long as it is done discreetly and w/modesty. My issues is with these militant mommas who just flash everyone and think that is o.k. You wouldn't change your baby's diaper right in front of everyone, would you? That is a bodily function as well, but as w/breastfeeding, there is an expectation that it be done in the proper place and in the proper way. And no, I am not suggesting that you should have to breastfeed in a restroom!

          • TJW

            Breastfeeding isn't just a "bodily function"...It's not the same as using the restroom.

    • Hillbilly

      Legislature has much higher priorities than this. Used to be women used restrooms or fitting rooms for this and its not like there are thousands of them needing it at any given moment in time. Personally I could care less, we don't need a law to say so. Just typical Barbara Fleischauer - anything to champion her causes..

      • Lynne Ryan

        Thank you, Barbara for championing this cause! I have spent 17 years supporting breastfeeding families in WV and I am sad to say that we need this "protective" law. While most citizens will leave a breastfeeding dyad in peace, there is the occasional ignorant person who feels compelled to interfere. I wish it were not so-I wish a nursing baby was as common a sight as the sun coming up-it is certainly as normal!

      • sarah

        Maybe you would like to take your dinner to the restroom and eat it?

  • northforkfisher

    I'm glad to see this, because if we are going to pressure woman to breast feed, then we need to backup their rights to do so.

  • two dimes and a nickel

    some jug action? What's the problem?

    • shawn

      Have some class

  • flossrancher

    "One of the only state's . . . "? I know you know better.

    • TPS

      It Is actually one of only two states without laws protecting mothers who breastfeed. The other is Idaho.

    • Hoppy Kercheval

      Yes, I do. Thanks for catching. Corrected.

    • JB

      Proffing is dead. I would bet they don't know better.