Reduce Barriers for Breastfeeding

HB 741 and HB 1706

House Committee on Business and Industry
March 12, 2013

The Texas Medical Association (TMA), representing 47,000 physicians and medical students, supports House Bill 741 by Rep. Armando Walle and House Bill 1706 by Rep. Jessica Farrar, to promote and support breastfeeding in Texas. Both bills address common barriers mothers face to continuous breastfeeding of their infants.

Milk is a nutritionally complete food and is the only food that newborns need for at least the first six months of life. Breast milk contains unique cells, hormones, and antibodies that protect babies from illness and promote development of a strong immune system. Breastfed babies have greater resistance to disease and infection. They also have less frequent occurrence of gastrointestinal infections, lower incidence of lower respiratory tract disease, and reduced risk of obesity in adulthood, among many other health benefits. 

Physicians support continuous breastfeeding for at least one year for the optimal health and development of infants and children. But while 80 percent of Texas women start to breastfeed their baby, only 13 percent exclusively breastfeed until their baby is six months old. We can do more to promote breastfeeding in Texas. We can build on the policies already in place in Texas legislation to support women’s rights to breastfeed. 

Most Texas women are employed outside their home, and employers must be encouraged to provide worksite accommodations for their breastfeeding employees. Texas is not alone in this effort. Forty-five states have laws that allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location, and at least five of these states provide recourse in the case of discrimination. Another 17 states have already adopted worksite accommodation laws more expansive than current federal requirements.

We support HB 741, which provides direction on accommodations for breastfeeding by public employees. The legislation would help thousands of working women. HB 1706 expands on current state provisions by ensuring women are protected from harassment when they breastfeed in public places. 

A woman’s choice to breastfeed benefits her child, her family, and the community. HB 741 and HB 1706 build upon the state’s commitment to support the health and well-being of mothers and their babies. The Texas Legislature has been a champion of the rights of breastfeeding mothers. We encourage you to take action in support of breastfeeding as proposed in these bills. Our physicians look forward to working with you to implement this important legislation.

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