Remove the Loophole in California Breastfeeding Laws

In 1997, the state of California added Section 43.3 of the Civil Code to protect the rights of breastfeeding mothers and their children. This section states, "Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, except the private home or residence of another, where the mother and the child are otherwise authorized to be present." Until recently, this (along with several additions to ensure equal work environments for breastfeeding and pumping mothers) was enough to protect the rights of a woman to breastfeed a child, effectively, wherever she was allowed to be.

Unfortunately, there is an organization headquartered in California that we believe has been using a certain loophole in the law. Facebook, which was originally located in Palo Alto and has since relocated to Menlo Park in California, has spent over a year as of January 2012 removing pictures and profiles, and shutting down groups and pages belonging to a menagerie of individuals and organizations. Their locations vary; some are from America, some from Australia, some from Canada, but their purposes are the same: these are women and men and entire groups of people, sometimes tens of thousands strong, who support a woman's right to provide to her child the most natural, nourishing first food that she can, and who are aware of the numerous benefits that breastfeeding provide for both mother and child - including, but not limited to, the fact that it protects babies better than any antibiotic or medication possibly could (via http://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/why-breastfeeding-is-important/#a), that it has numerous health benefits for Mom as well (via http://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/why-breastfeeding-is-important/#b), that it has been PROVEN to save the lives of babies who might have otherwise died (via http://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/why-breastfeeding-is-important/#c), that it is incredibly beneficial to preterm infants (as well as all infants) (via http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/oct2007/nichd-01.htm), that it has the potential to decrease the overall lifetime weight of children and help prevent obesity (via http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/nutrition/pdf/breastfeeding_r2p.pdf), and that it contains beneficial ingredients that may never be able to be duplicated by any other food or drink supplement created by science (via http://www.americanpregnancy.org/firstyearoflife/whatsinbreastmilk.html). Breastfeeding is unequivocally the single most beneficial, nutritious food that any mother can provide to her children at any point in their lives.
Facebook has been trying to shutter it back behind closed doors by removing the profiles, pictures, groups, and other pages and profiles that encourage breastfeeding and show it in a normalized setting. Instead of encouraging the bond between mother and baby, they have been blocking individuals and organizations and removing their information entirely if they have shown to be heavily encouraging of breastfeeding. Ironically enough, while a breastfeeding mother is often more covered and covert than individuals on the beach in summertime, ask any Facebook user and they can and will confirm - often in graphic detail - that there are many more groups, profiles, and pages dedicated to the sexualization of children and the dehumanization of women and minorities. There are pages that have been confirmed to be reported dozens, if not hundreds, of times that still exist, filled with rampant nudity and graphic sexuality that is very clearly against Facebook's self-imposed guideline, which states, "no pornography". Yet women who are merely breastfeeding their children are locked down faster and harder than seasoned criminals.

We, the men and women who support the rights of a woman to breastfeed her child anywhere she is welcome to be, ask that the California state legislature therefore make it more difficult for Facebook to use California state law against users of its social networking website. We firmly believe that, in an effort to hide away breastfeeding and its benefits, Facebook administrators have been using this phrase of Section 43.3 of the Civil Code: "except the private home or residence of another" as an excuse to keep breastfeeding hidden under lock and key. We ask that the California state Assembly and Senate amend this section to add the following statement: "Images or video of a woman breastfeeding a child in any capacity and any form, including personal pictures, religious imagery, public demonstration, and any other media matter are exempt and shall not be liable to be considered nudity or pornography when not intended by the mother for that purpose. These images or video are protected under the law and their existence in any form, be it on a personal computer, in the media, on any external storage device, posted publicly, or viewed over the Internet on any device, shall not be considered pornographic or explicit." With this addition, Facebook would not be able to continue using loopholes in state law to continue punishing breastfeeding mothers for sharing their nursing babies with the world - and it would be at least a little more difficult for them to try to push nursing mothers into the background.

We thank you for your time and your efforts in protecting the rights of breastfeeding mothers and babies, and appreciate your continual acknowledgement of the vast benefits that breastfeeding provides to mothers, children, and to our society as a whole.
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