Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New protections for nursing mothers in Senate health bill

From the Wall Street Journal Health Blog:

Here’s a detail in the Senate health-care bill we hadn’t noticed until now: Employers would be required to give nursing mothers “a reasonable break time” to express breast milk during work.

Employers would also have to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk,” the bill says.

Companies with fewer than 50 workers would be exempted from the requirements if the rules imposed “an undue hardship.” You can read the provision yourself on page 1239 of the Senate health-care bill. Similar legislation has been introduced in Congress for years, but has never become law.

More than 20 states already have laws in place to protect nursing mothers in the workplace, according to a Kaiser Health News story that highlights several provisions in the Senate bill that haven’t drawn much attention.

There's plenty to say about ignoring extended maternity leaves in favor of lukewarm pumping protection, but at least this would extend some extra protections to women working in states that don't currently protect their right to express milk. It also shows there's at least one prevention-minded initiative in the health care bill!

Thanks for the link go to Adriane, my classmate and policy guru extraodinaire!

P.S. I just realized this is my 200th post to Public Health Doula. Wow! Thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing.