By Todd Quinones
DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (CBS) – A new law in Doylestown means if a mother was breastfeeding in a store, it would be illegal for the business owner or manager to ask her to move, cover up or say something to embarrass her.
For moms like Allegra Avila, breastfeeding in public can fuel a lot of anxiety.
“I was really surprised at how angry people were about the thought of this (law) passing,” Avila said.
“You have to decide, ‘Am I going to nurse or am I going to go somewhere?’ And there have been times where I’ve gone to my car and felt ashamed,” said mom Vonna Dearmond said.
Pennsylvania state law does give “permission” for mothers to breastfeed in public, but the ordinance in Doylestown goes a step further.
The law makes it illegal to discriminate against a woman breastfeeding in public to the point where violators could be cited.
Some business owners and members of council who opposed the ordinance say the state law goes far enough in making sure woman breastfeeding in a public space cannot be arrested or charged with a crime.
“Even young people have come to me and said they are not comfortable. We are not Europe and legislating this isn’t going to change anything,” Doylestown Borough Councilwoman Joan Doyle said.
“I’m not militant and I’m not going to say you’re jerks for passing the law if you do, but I really have to proclaim the importance of being a vibrant community that honors each other eye to eye,” one business woman said.
The ordinance passed by a 6-to-3 margin Monday evening.
Now in Doylestown, for example, the owner or manager of a restaurant can’t ask a breastfeeding mom to move or cover up.
“I’m very happy. I’m really happy and I do feel like we live in this great little town,” Avila said.
Violators of the new law would not face criminal prosecution. Instead they could wind up before a local Human Relations Commission and have their names printed in the local paper.