Smart Legislation Word Choices

Knowing the Right Phrases To Get the Most Bang for your Bill

If you’re working on writing legislation to try to change things in your state, knowing a few key phrases to use or avoid can help you avoid future problems, or your bill being shot-down quickly. While there’s much more to consider, here are some key points to keep in mind:

Use the term ‘child’ and not ‘baby’ in regards to any breastfeeding verbiage. ‘Baby’ can lead to future age arguments.

Any wording pertaining to public indecency should stay away from using the terms breast, nipple, exposure, and uncovered as they are hot button words that can cause legislation to be turned down. Allowing a mother to nurse in public and for her breast to be exposed even the nipple during latch on doesn’t have to be worded in detail drawing attention to the breast. A good example is to keep it simple. For example, ‘The act of a mother breastfeeding a child, shall not be considered lewd, indecent, immoral, or unlawful conduct.’, nothing more is needed.

The most popular verbiage for what locations a mother has permission to nurse are:

  1. A mother has the right to breastfeed in any location that she has permission to be. The simplest version.
  2. A mother can breastfeed her child in any public location or private place of public accommodation. A private place of public accommodation verbiage is typically used to diffute the, “government can’t tell me what to do in my private home” argument.


Enforcement is key! In order to put an end to breastfeeding discrimination, there has to be consequences. A law without enforcement protects no one.

  1. Make sure the verbiage is written where any form of harassment is a violation of law. The violation can classified as either a civil or criminal offense.
  2. Make sure the dollar amount of the fine or penalty is specified.
  3. Clearly define what is being enforced and what is considered a violation of a mother’s right. i.e. Asking a mother to move to another location, threatening a mother to have her arrested, etc.
  4. Clearly define who is going to receive the incident report and enforce the violation of law. Make sure the enforcement agency is specified. For civil penalties this is usually the Attorney General’s office for your state. For criminal penalties this is local law enforcement.

The jury duty exemption for breastfeeding mothers is very helpful, but know your legislation because it may not be needed. You don’t want to push for jury duty exemptions and make it a big issue that could cause your bill to fail especially when it’s not as important as the enforcement of lactating rights.

  1. Example One: Some states have exemptions for a caretaker of a young child so in this example a breastfeeding exemption isn’t needed. The breastfeeding mother would fall under the caretaker for a young child.
  2. Example Two: Any person may be able to exempt themselves for no specific reason for a year. In this case during a period of exclusive breastfeeding a mother could just skip serving that particular year.

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