On August 10, 2016, Mayor De Blasio signed a new bill into law that effectively advances the rights of breastfeeding mothers throughout New York City. The bill, 1063-A, was introduced by Council Member Robert E. Cornegy and it gained incredible support from other members as they agreed that breastfeeding mothers needed their rights outlined by the law. In essence, they agreed that mothers need to have the ability to request a private and sanitary place for them to pump milk or feed their infants in various types of public spaces.
The urgent need for breastfeeding rights reform has been thoroughly documented but one particular story from a NYPD officer who wasn’t able to take breaks in order to pump breast milk, ignited a fervor in Council Member Cornegy. At the time, state law required employers to provide 20 to 30 minutes for an employee who needed to pump breast milk while on the clock. As the first elected official to house a lactation station for constituents in his District Office, he has set a precedent for creating an important dialogue about a mother’s rights.
“Today’s bill signing is the fulfillment of a promise that I made to my family nine years ago when my wife went back to work and had to pump and breastfeed in closets. I vowed then to provide breastfeeding families the support and access to clean facilities that Michelle was denied when nursing our youngest children including our twin boys,” Council Member Cornegy explained.
The unique legislation will effect all types of public offices including SNAP centers, which often receive traffic from families and mothers especially. These spaces will be legally bound to maintaining a sanitary place for mothers to breastfeed, with emphasis on the fact that restrooms are not a suitable compromise. Instead, these lactation rooms require an electrical outlet, to allow mothers to plug in breast pump machines, a chair to properly nurse their infant and access to clean running water.
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