Britain likely to allow breastfeeding in public

June 28th, 2008 - 12:30 pm ICT by IANS  

London, June 28 (IANS) Under British laws, women who breastfeed in public places can be charged under public order or indecency legislation. This could now change with Health Minister Harriet Harman formally supporting pro-change groups. Women already have some protection under law to breastfeed newborns in places such as stations, restaurants and bars, but there are still cases of mothers being thrown out when staff complain that they are embarrassing other customers.

Breastfeeding in public for the first six months after a child’s birth is protected under law. Activist groups want this to be extended till it is time for the child to go for the bottle, The Independent reported.

Maternity groups are in the middle of a campaign at present to encourage breast-feeding as a health incentive for new mothers. Boosting their cause, Harman has said she is all for a change of existing laws, voicing her concern that Britain has the lowest breastfeeding rate in Europe, despite a health department campaign called “Breast is Best”.

Seventy-five percent of mothers give a newborn baby breast milk but the proportion falls to 25 percent after six months.

Pressure from maternity groups led by the Royal College of Midwives has resulted in the tabling of a Commons motion calling for mothers to be given a legal right to breastfeed in public “with no limit on that right”.

Scotland has passed the Breastfeeding (Scotland) Bill in 2004. Anyone who prevents a mother from breastfeeding is breaking the law and liable to a fine of up to 2,000 pounds ($4,000).

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