What a Bunch of Boobs!

Here’s where I either come off as a heartless libertarian, a clueless member of the male persuasion, or both.

According to an April 9 report from CNN, carefully hidden more than 1200 pages into the health care reform bill just signed into law is a provision which requires employers which employ more than 50 employees to provide those employees with designated rooms for breastfeeding purposes.  According to the language in the law, the breastfeeding room must “shielded from view” and “free from intrusion from co-workers and the public.”  And no, simply providing a comfortable chair in an existing restroom is not enough.

Here’s the explanation from the CNN piece, including some feel-good rationalization from someone who clearly doesn’t understand the proper role of government:

Women across America have felt uncomfortable in public situations when breastfeeding their children. Sarah Hood of Fayetteville, Arkansas, who works in advertising, got stares when breastfeeding her son in the open.

Working mothers like Nahar and Hood have had to carefully tailor their schedules so that they can pump milk in the middle of the day, and avoid stares when they put bottles in the communal refrigerators. Some have to use a bathroom stall to pump milk, as there is no other space available.

Nursing mothers will now get additional support, thanks to page 1239 of the health care bill that President Obama recently signed into law. It requires employers 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.” Only companies with less than 50 employees can claim it’s an undue hardship.

“It reflects both a shifting attitude, a shifting reality, and also the impact of research that shows that it’s healthier for the kids, and therefore good for the company, good for the family,” said Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder of the nonprofit research organization Families and Work Institute.

Look, folks — I’ve obviously never been in such a situation.  While my own man-mammaries have become more ample as I’ve packed on some weight over my law school career, they’re not being used to sustain another human life any time soon.  And while I’m fairly secure in my resemblance to a hairy manatee when at the beach or pool, I understand completely how women would be pensive when it comes to breastfeeding in public.

That being said, the federal government has no business whatsoever mandating that employers provide dedicated breastfeeding facilities for employees.  These aren’t infrastructure features intended to foster access for the disabled.  These aren’t eye-washing stations or first aid kits designed to save the vision of and treat injuries sustained by employees exposed to hazardous materials and dangerous situations in the workplace.  This is an unnecessary, onerous burden placed on American business and industry by bureaucrats who know nothing of balancing a budget or tending to a bottom line.

If companies want to provide such facilities on their own, more power to them.  I think it’s a great idea, and it is certainly something that those companies can use to recruit the best talent in the job pool.  After all, when looking for a job–in a better market, at least–many people choose to work for one organization over another based upon such perks.  Child care availability, exercise facilities, reimbursed travel: all of those and more serve as determining factors for discriminating job-seekers — why shouldn’t dedicated breastfeeding rooms join that list of perks?

However, if we go down this road with regard to facilitating breastfeeding via government mandate, where does it stop?  Eating fresh vegetables is commonly known to be good for people; will employers later be required to provide adequate refrigeration equipment?  Studies might show that workers are more productive after a short nap; are mandated siestas far behind?

Perceived benefit should not lead to government mandate.  But when we’re led by elected officials who believe wholeheartedly that it is the government’s purpose to take care of the people, rather than to protect the people, get out of the way, and facilitate the means by which the people can take care of themselves, we will just slide further and further toward the ultimate nanny state.  Populist authoritarianism is not the American way.

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Comments

  1. Gail B. says:

    That is the most ridiculous thing I ever heard!

    In the first place, I breast-fed both of my sons. A receiving blanket or something similar to cover the “parts affected” works just fine. I mean, if you have your baby with you, you will also have a baby blanket of some sort, too. Just stands to reason.

    In the second place, I cannot for the life of me figure out why one woman would have any objection to another woman being in a position to see someone breast feed. In my case, I don’t have anything that the other woman doesn’t have; she just might have more of it!

    AND, what the hell does WHERE one breast feeds have to do with one’s HEALTH? If I were riding a bus and had to breast feed, I’d use the receiving blanket.

    All this is going to do is cause small businesses NOT TO HIRE women of childbearing age. ~~So much for “JOBS! JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!”

  2. Anonymous says:

    Where in the heck did you get Bill Clinton’s baby photo????

  3. Are we really surprised? I’m sure there are hundreds, if not thousands of other little nuggets of mandates in that 2700-page atrocity. (After all, Pelosi told us we’d “find out” what was in the bill after we passed it…..)

    I think this is absurd….and I’m a female. Granted, I don’t have any spawn; but it’s still ridiculous. Way to hit businesses while they’re down.

  4. Gail B. says:

    Whatever happened to “maternity leave?”

  5. NoSnoozeForYou says:

    Too darn funny. Well the government interference isn’t, but I can’t stop laughing at the picture of the baby.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Gail cracks me up! 1:37 line 3

  7. Jordan Bell says:

    I’m curious as to how this will work at a facility, such as an iron foundry, or something along those lines, where there is typically no females due to the intensive labor involved in that type of work. In addition, children usually aren’t even allowed into these areas. So now these companies will be mandated to provide for a person that is not even there.

  8. Boston Blackie says:

    Who the hell has their kid at work with them!!
    Any woman who has breastfed their child knows that they pump the milk while they are home to be used later. Does the employer also have provide for a separate refrigerator to store the pumped milk. Wouldn’t want someone mistaking it for the half and half for coffee. Reminds me of the time that my husband was interviewing a crime victim who had her 3 year old son with her. At one point the kid reached in and grabbed his “lunch” from under mom’s shirt. Needless to say, my husband lost his appetite hehe.

  9. Dee says:

    I’m with Gail. I breastfed all 3 of my children and if I was in a public place, I covered all the “important” parts with a blanket. I worked with many young nurses who pumped in the female locker room which was next to the women’s bathroom. No one was offended or felt self conscious. The milk was placed in that woman’s cooler or insulated lunch bag. On another floor of the hospital was a “dedicated ” room for pumping. It was an old closet with a chair in it.
    As for Jordon Bell’s question, the female foundry workers would be pumping really “hot” milk!
    What will this administration think of next?

  10. John Buyon says:

    Wow that is pretty absurd
    it will be tweaked though as all legislation is so not too much to worry about.

  11. Jeff Schreiber says:

    It’s already signed into law, John.

    I wonder if having moobs qualifies me to sue under Title VII?

  12. Gail B. says:

    You know, there are BREAST PUMPS, bottles, and refrigerators; but I’m still wondering why a woman would have a baby at her job (whether it be a breast-fed or a bottle-fed baby, unless she worked at a day care center.

    I’ve been giving this one some thought, and I believe the government is just trying to make it hard on people trying to make ends meet. No, I think it’s just trying to see how much control it can gain.

    Isn’t that something that could be covered by local ordinances, if at all? Where does the federal government get off, anyway? (That’s a Southern expression.)

  13. Lilly says:

    I heard about this and it is crazy. Common sense is no longer in our government. Gail, some places (larger co.s) have day care on site so they could go and breast feed. But I think it is mainly talking about pumping at work. I breast feed and there are so many cool gadgets, blankets and carriers to help with “privacy” while in public. I had no problem sitting in my car or a bathroom to feed her. Or for that fact on a bench in public with a blanket or snuggie carrier type thing. I never had 1 person say a word or give me a funny look. Most people had no clue and those that did just mainly smiled and went on their way.

  14. Tis the weak to tweak says:

    Too late to ‘tweak’ legislation John,
    enforcement will be ‘tweaked’,
    as with our tax code and Democrat legislators and administrators.

  15. Dan M. says:

    What about states like MN where the woman has a legal right to breastfeed in public (even if a nipple is inadvertently exposed). Why require them if nobody complains. Our state government has offices spread all over the state some serving only a few employees. Are we required to go broke installing B.F. rooms in all of these facilities?

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