Seattle moms want new law to protect breastfeeding in public

SEATTLE -- A group of Seattle moms say they've been harassed for breastfeeding in public, and now they want the city to make it illegal for anyone to ask them to cover up.

It's perfectly legal to breastfeed in all public spaces, but a number of angry moms flooded City Hall on Wednesday to say not everyone abides by the law.

Lisa Hansen said she's sick of people gawking at her when she breastfeeds in public.

"A lot people look strangely at you when you breastfeed," she said.

Like Hansen, Camie Goldhammer says she's had negative experiences breastfeeding in public, including twice being asked to stop.

By law, moms can breastfeed anywhere they want, but the parents who showed up at City Hall say that's not enough. They want the City Council to make it illegal for someone to ask a breastfeeding mom to stop what she's doing.

"Places would not be able to tell women to cover up or move, go to the corner, because you're disturbing customers," said Abigail Echo-Hawk of the Seattle Women's Commission.

If approved, the measure would give moms the right to file a complaint with the city's Civil Rights Office.

"This gives women a power to stand up and say, 'This is wrong, I can breastfeed and take care of my child in the way I know is best,'" Echo-Hawk said.

Nearly a dozen women told the Council's Civil Right's Committee that breastfeeding is a public health issues, and said babies who are breastfed have lower obesity rates and fewer infectious and chronic diseases than those who are not.

They also said those who feel uncomfortable around breastfeeding should simply look the other way.

"I don't want to be asked to move to another room because people feel uncomfortable," said Stephanie Mora.

The committee offered its support to the moms who testified, and the full council will vote on Monday on whether to give the moms the right to file discrimination complaints in Seattle.