After public pool managers at Pirates Cove told a breast-feeding woman to cover up or find a private place to feed her child, more than a dozen supporters protested Friday outside the Pirates Cove aquatic park with a “nurse-in.” On Sunday morning prior to the protest, Charlotte Dirkes of Alamosa was asked to cover up or find a private place while she breast-fed her 10-month-old son at the kiddie pool. Dirkes chose to quit feeding her child rather than ruin her family's holiday.
The city of Englewood is now apologizing, and city spokesman Mike Flaherty acknowledged the city violated a state law that protects breast-feeding children. He called it a learning experience and said all city workers are being reminded of the law.
Supporters say the nurse-ins are necessary to assert the mothers’ rights and to call attention to the laws. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 45 states have laws that allow women to breast-feed in any public or private location where they have a right to be, and 28 states exempt breast-feeding from public indecency laws.
The Family Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Reconciliation Act signed by President Barack Obama requires employers to provide reasonable break time for women to express breast milk for a nursing child for one year after the child's birth. The employer must also provide a place other than a bathroom for the employee to express breast milk. Companies with less than 50 employees are exempt.
States that have breast-feeding protection laws cite reports from health professionals and public health officials that breast-feeding improves infant health because breast milk has antibodies that protect infants from diseases and those children require less medical treatment.
Some states impose fines for violators, while others, including Colorado, have no penalties. Business groups representing large and small companies in Colorado declined to comment.