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S.156

AN ACT RELATING TO BREASTFEEDING

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1. FINDINGS

The general assembly finds that:

(1) Breastfeeding an infant is an important, basic and natural act of nurture that should be encouraged in the interest of enhancing maternal, child and family health.

(2) Breastfeeding is the most healthful, natural and economical method of infant nutrition. Many studies show that babies who are breastfed have lower rates of death, meningitis, childhood leukemia and other cancers, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, bacterial and viral infections, allergies, obesity and developmental delays, and women who breastfeed have a lowered risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

(3) In the early weeks of life, babies need to be breastfed on demand, and bottles in the early weeks can jeopardize the success of the breastfeeding relationship between mother and child.

(4) New mothers who suffer embarrassment or humiliation for breastfeeding in public are more likely to wean early and deprive themselves and their child of the short and long-term health benefits of breastfeeding.

(5) In addition to providing major infant and maternal health benefits, breastfeeding is also economical. It is estimated that the WIC program could save as much as $93 million just in lower food packaging costs if all eligible mothers breastfed their infants. A breastfed baby saves $478.00 in WIC and other health care costs during the baby’s first six months of life. Breastfeeding for just six months can save a family over $1,400.00 a year in health care claims.

Sec. 2. 13 V.S.A. § 2601 is amended to read:

§ 2601. LEWD AND LASCIVIOUS CONDUCT

(a) A person guilty of open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior shall be imprisoned not more than five years or fined not more than $300.00, or both.

(b) Lewd and lascivious conduct or behavior shall not include a woman breastfeeding a child in a public or private location.

Sec. 3. 4 V.S.A. § 962 is amended to read:

§ 962. Qualifications; excuse from service

* * *

(b) *[No]* A person shall not be automatically excused from jury service*[; however, the]*, unless the person is a breastfeeding mother requesting to be excused from jury service. The presiding judge may excuse a person for all or part of the two-year period upon individual request showing undue hardship on the prospective juror or the employer.