Whatcom County Council changes indecent exposure law to OK breastfeeding

The Whatcom County Council has unanimously approved changing its indecent exposure law to OK breastfeeding.

It brings a local public nudity ordinance in line with state law and with current social norms, The Bellingham Herald reported.

Councilwoman Carol Frazey said earlier this month that she brought the measure forward to support breastfeeding.

As written, Whatcom County code 9.08.020 regarding unlawful exposure says "It is unlawful for any female to expose or permit public display of her bosom, in the nude or substantially exposed to public view, in any public establishment."

Frazey’s measure adds: "except this shall not apply to a person who is breastfeeding a child. A person shall have the right to breastfeed a child in any location, public or private, where the person has the right to be with their child, without respect to whether the person’s breast or any part of it is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding of the child."

Councilwoman Kathy Kershner proposed an amendment changing the word "person" to "woman" but that was defeated 4-3.

"I believe the word ‘person’ is more inclusive," Frazy said.

State law indicates that "the act of breastfeeding or expressing breast milk is not indecent exposure." State anti-discrimination laws further guarantee the right to breastfeed and outlaw discrimination against someone who is breastfeeding.

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