Topeka Mothers who believe they should be allowed to nurse their infants in public have an ally in a Kansas House committee.
The Health and Human Services Committee endorsed a bill Thursday declaring that a woman may breast-feed "any place she has a right to be." The measure also declares it the state's policy to encourage breast-feeding.
The committee's unanimous vote sent the measure to the House for debate. The action came after testimony from public health officials and mothers, including Amy Swan.
Swan recalled a recent incident in which she attempted to nurse her infant daughter at her Lawrence health club. A worker told her she couldn't.
"He actually said, 'Those are your parts, and I don't want to see them,'" she said.
Thirty-two states have such laws, according to researchers. The Kansas bill's supporters say studies show breast-feeding has health benefits and told the committee the stigma attached to nursing in public often leads women to turn to formula instead.
Mary Honas, who has coached nursing mothers for 18 years, said if women aren't comfortable nursing in public, they won't do it at home.
"So many women are told they have to go to the bathroom to nurse their child," she said. "Nobody wants to eat their lunch in a bathroom. Why should a baby?"