Last Saturday, we published an article expressing the opinion that women shouldn’t be able to dictate to private business owners and property owners what they will and won’t permit when it comes to breastfeeding on their property. Without question, it’s an unpopular position to take on an issue that evokes a lot of passion with some mothers. Nevertheless, I think it’s the right one. Not because I oppose breastfeeding, but how can property rights exist if the owner of said property doesn’t have ultimate control over what goes on there?
As I said in the aforementioned article, current law — passed in 2009 — already prohibits a private business from refusing to let a woman breastfeed in their establishment. What House Bill 1330 would have done is eliminate “in a discreet and modest manner” and impose a penalty for anyone prohibiting breastfeeding. You can imagine how laissez-faire this had the potential to be.
The fascinating thing about HB 1330 was that many breastfeeding moms opposed the legislation and felt that it was unnecessary and went too far. Even Rep. Karen Karls (R – District 35) — who acknowledged breastfeeding all four of her children — carried the bill to the floor for debate and urged a red vote.
To be fair, I don’t think the bill would have changed too much in terms of how women across the state breastfeed their babies. I think the vast majority of them do so in a discreet and modest manner. But this bill would have completely opened the door to any who wanted to do otherwise. And that simply shouldn’t be an option when it’s someone else’s property.
The North Dakota House got it right when they defeated this bill yesterday by a vote of 32-61.