Bill would allow women to breastfeed in public

Bill would allow women to breastfeed in public

NASHVILLE - Under a bill moving in the Senate, mothers who publicly breastfeed their babies would no longer risk being charged with indecent exposure in Tennessee if the child is more than 12 months old.

The Senate General Welfare Committee today approved the measure, which eliminates the age restriction, on a 7-1 vote with one lawmaker abstaining. The bill's sponsor, Sen. Mike Faulk, R-Kingsport, said the current restriction makes no sense.

"In the first place, why in the world should a mother be charged with indecent exposure for breastfeeding a child and why would that be the concern of the state?" Faulk asked. "And third ... who is going to ID the child?"

Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, raised concerns about the bill, asking whether a 35-year-old could be considered a child.

"I know that sounds crazy, but I'm thinking about how an attorney would use this in a situation in a bar where maybe things got a little crazy or whatever," Watson said.

He added later that "I know I'm way out on the fringe thinking like a 14-year-old, but weird things happen in our society."

Watson voted for the legislation. It has no cost and presumable is eligible to go to the full Senate for a vote. It has yet to start moving in the House.