Forest Park, a city in metro Atlanta, GA., has passed a public indecency ordinance that prevents public nudity. According to the law, no woman can breastfeed their child in public if they are older than 2-years-old.
John Parker, the city manager, said the law was a “proactive step.”
“It sets up a process whereby we can try to control nudity throughout the entire city,” Parker said.
Dr. Vincent Iannelli, M.D. weighed in on the subject in his column. Here is an excerpt:
Besides the fact that it is a terrible idea to do anything that might restrict breastfeeding, whatever your views are on breastfeeding in public or extended breastfeeding, whether it is to directly limit where mothers can breastfeed, or indirectly harm the idea that breastfeeding is natural, it is hard to even believe the ordinance is legal.
Like many other states, Georgia has a state law that declares that a ‘mother may breast-feed her baby in any location where the mother and baby are otherwise authorized to be.’
There is even a federal law that states that ‘Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a woman may breastfeed her child at any location in a Federal building or on Federal property, if the woman and her child are otherwise authorized to be present at the location.’
Several states have specific breastfeeding laws that exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws, but is that really necessary? With this Forest Park ordinance going into effect, months after the Surgeon General released a Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding and the creation of a national campaign to promote breastfeeding, maybe we do.
The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t put a limit on how long moms should breastfeed, why should the Forest Park City Council in Georgia? The AAP states that ‘There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.’
The Mayor and City Council of the City of Forest Park state that they ‘determine the policies of the City and enact the local laws necessary for the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare.’ Help them understand that their new law that equates breastfeeding with nudity and public indecency does nothing to protect the health or welfare of the city’s children or their mothers. In addition to calling or emailing city officials, parents who live nearby should consider attending the Forest Park Nurse In on Monday, May 23 in front of City Hall.
Fighting this law will also help to make sure that other cities and states don’t try to pass similar laws.
What do you think of this new ban? Do you think a city should tell a mother when she can/can’t breastfeed her child?