TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida has become the nation's first state to guarantee the right to breast-feed in public.
"It's not a shameful act that ought to be hidden behind closed doors," Gov. Lawton Chiles said at a bill-signing ceremony Tuesday. "It's a time of bonding and nurturing between a mother and her baby. We know breast-feeding ought to be encouraged."
The bill, approved overwhelmingly by the Legislature, states that a woman who nurses in public cannot be charged under any state obscenity, lewdness or nudity laws.
The legislation also endorses breast-feeding as the preferred way to nurse an infant, stating that its goal is to end ignorance based on "archaic and outdated moral taboos."
No other state has enacted such a law, although a similar municipal ordinance exists in Kansas City, Mo., according to the main sponsor, Rep. Miguel De Grandy.
De Grandy said he filed the bill after reading an article in the Miami Herald by free-lance writer Michelle Genz, who was accosted in a mall by a security guard while breast-feeding her 4-month-old.
Chiles, who signed the bill before about 150 people commemorating "Healthy Baby Day" in the Capitol courtyard, was joined by his daughter, Rhea Chiles MacKinnon, and her infant son, Mack. She nursed her baby a few weeks ago at a House committee meeting while lobbying for the bill.