Breastfeeding Bill Passes Idaho Legislature

Mar 12, 2018

The Idaho Senate passed -- and sent to the governor -- a bill that shields nursing mothers from indecency laws.
Credit Idaho Legislature

The Idaho Senate on Monday sent to the governor a bill that’s of interest to women who breastfeed their children in public. It’s a bill sponsored by a Coeur d’Alene lawmaker.

Republican Representative Paul Amador’s legislation would protect breastfeeding mothers from Idaho's indecent exposure law. Idaho is the only state in the nation where women who are feeding their children could face obscenity charges.

Amador says it’s not a major problem. But he says the message to women is that you need to be careful or you could get a ticket.

Fifteen years ago, Idaho lawmakers killed a similar proposal over fears of women removing their blouses and exposing their breasts in public spaces.

It’s an issue of interest to new fathers, like Amador. His wife had their first child several months ago. He says a fellow lawmaker told him a story about his daughter-in-law, who also had a baby recently.

“And she was visiting Lava Hot Springs State Park, which is located in southern Idaho. She was breastfeeding her child and the park staff or officials approached her and indicated she was not allowed to breastfeed in the public park, which surprised me, you know, when you think of it being a state-owned facility. The funny part being is that it’s also a hot springs where people are also generally standing around in swimsuits, so there’s not necessarily a lot of modesty going on as it is,” Amador said.

Amador says to him, it’s a matter of what’s best for mothers and children. And he cites the endorsement of breastfeeding by the American Academy for Pediatrics.

Idaho is the outlier in this case. Forty-nine states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location.