Policy Update: May 8, 2015

Policy Update: May 8, 2015

black-woman-nursing-300A quick look back at events this week impacting women and families, from Valerie Young, a public policy analyst with Mom-mentum.

Colorado has passed a state law excusing breastfeeding mothers, if they so choose, from jury duty for up to two consecutive 12-month postponements. That state now joins 17 other states and Puerto Rico with exemptions or postponements under these circumstances. Why isn’t this possible in all 50 states?

The US Army has no breastfeeding policy, and that’s a problem. Recently at a military base in Idaho, an order was issued that required “mothers breastfeeding in public areas on base relocate to a private room, use a nursing cover or leave the premises” according to Military Times. An uproar ensued, and now members of the US House of Representatives want clean, adequate facilities with electricity, and specify that “restroom facilities” are not appropriate.

Have trouble finding the right place to breastfeed your baby or pump? This is such a common problem in our culture which is so conflicted about women generally and breasts in particular. But don’t worry—there’s an app for that! Two mothers in New York have come up with Moms Pump Here, a locator for nursing and lactation rooms, where you can find a spot or add a good place you’ve found. They also have information about pertinent legislation for handy reference. Mothers helping mothers—that’s what it’s all about.

Boston’s City Council moved paid family leave forward for city employees with a unanimous vote. As the US Congress has failed to pass a federal paid family leave bill so far, states and municipalities are doing it alone, and with success. The Boston bill now goes to committee and will have a hearing this summer.

Do you ever get the feeling that the US talks a lot about family values, but doesn’t really follow through? The annual State of the World’s Mothers Report from global charity Save the Children ranks the US 61st in terms of maternal health, behind every other industrialized country. In starkest terms a US mother is more then 10 times as likely to die from a pregnancy related condition or childbirth than one in Austria, Belarus, or Poland. Women get more education and do pretty well, economically, in comparison to 178 other countries around the world. But we compare very poorly in terms of women’s political representation, and maternal and infant health. Perhaps if more women were in policy-making positions, we’d keep more new mothers and babies alive.

Follow Valerie on Facebook (Your (Wo)Man in Washington) and Twitter (@WomanInDC) and find her on the blog at Mom-mentum.