Breastfeeding in public has become a hot topic in social media and the news. Nevada has deemed breastfeeding a legal activity, but with some restrictions. The laws relating to breastfeeding in public are discussed below.

What is the legal definition of lewdness with a child under 16 years?

Breastfeeding in public is defined in NRS 201.232.

NRS 201.232 –Breast feeding: Legislative intent; authorized in any public or private location where mother is authorized to be.

  1. The legislature finds and declares that:
    1. The medical procession in the United States recommends that children from birth to the age of 1 year should be breast fed, unless under particular circumstances it is medically inadvisable.
    2. Despite the recommendation of the medical profession, statistics reveal a declining percentage of mothers who are choosing to breast feed their babies.
    3. Many new mothers are now choosing to use formula rather than to breast feed even before they leave the hospital, and only a small percentage of all mothers are still breast feeding when their babies are 6 months old.
    4. In addition to the benefit of improving bonding between mothers and their babies, breast feeding offers better nutrition, digestion and immunity for babies than does formula feeding, and it may increase the intelligence quotient of a child. Babies who are breast fed have lower rates of death, meningitis, childhood leukemia and other cancers, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, bacterial and viral infections, diarrheal diseases, otitis media, allergies, obesity and developmental delays.
    5. Breast feeding also provides significant benefits to the health of the mother, including protection against breast cancer and other cancers, osteoporosis and infections of the urinary tract. The incidence of breast cancer in the United States might be reduced by 25 percent if every woman breast fed all her children until they reached the age of 2 years.
    6. The World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund have established as one of their major goals for the decade the encouragement of breast feeding.
    7. The social constraints of modern society weigh against the choice of breast feeding and lead new mothers with demanding time schedules to opt for formula feeding to avoid embarrassment, social ostracism or criminal prosecution.
    8. Any genuine promotion of family values should encourage public acceptance of this most basic act of nurture between a mother and her baby, and no mother should be made to feel incriminated or socially ostracized for breast feeding her child.
  2. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a mother may breast feed her child in any public or private location where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breast feeding.

Why does breastfeeding have its own law? Isn’t it covered by the indecent exposure laws?

Yes, breastfeeding is covered by indecent exposure laws which state that breastfeeding is not indecent exposure. However, breastfeeding has become an increasingly controversial issue, largely because it blurs the line between the obvious necessity to feed your baby and the indecency of exposing your breast.

As result, Nevada lawmakers decided to settle the issue once and for all by codifying NRS 201.232 which states clearly that it is entirely legal to breastfeed a baby in public.

So that’s the end of it?

Unfortunately, no. While it is perfectly legal to breastfeed your child in public, leaving your breast exposed longer than is reasonably necessary to complete the act of breastfeeding is not legal. Since there is no specific amount of time that constitutes “reasonable” in this context, there is an obvious gray area where one person may think that the mother is exposing herself for too long, while another feels that the breast was only exposed for the necessary amount of time before or after feeding the child.

For more information on the laws regarding indecent exposure, please click here.

What about pumping breast milk?

Pumping breast milk while in public is not covered , by the laws that shield breastfeeding. This is largely because expressing breast milk is not something that needs to be done as urgently as feeding a child. While there are certainly times when a mother has to feed her child, and must do so urgently to keep the child from crying, pumping milk is not nearly as pressing a matter. Consequently, lawmakers did not cover it within the laws protecting breastfeeding.

However, there are laws that protect new mothers in the workplace. Along with all federally mandated breaks and meal times, federal law requires that employers provide reasonable break times through a shift for mothers to pump breast milk. Employers are able to set these breaks as un-paid without violating the law. Further, the employer must also provide a reasonable place, other than the bathroom, for doing so. In this regard, a reasonable place means one that is shielded from the view of coworkers and the public and is free from likely intrusion by others.

Please Note : The federal law relating to pumping breast milk in the workplace only applies to employers employing 50 or more people .

Please Also Note : Employers who employ 50 or more people are still able to avoid following this law if they can show that doing so would create an undue financial or logistical hardship.

What should I do if I’ve been charged with Breastfeeding?

As with any crime, it is very important that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so that you can discuss the specific circumstances as well as any defenses that may apply to your case.

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