The Legislative power couple of Rapid City fringe conservatism, Senator Phil Jensen and freshwoman Rep. Lynne DiSanto, whose every move in Pierre ought to arouse the suspicion and scrutiny of all good liberals, have floated a bill I find I must support.
Senate Bill 77 is titled "An Act to allow nursing mothers to breastfeed in certain locations." Actually, it would permit moms to breastfeed their kids in darn near any location. SB 77 reads, in its glorious one-sentence simplicity, "Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, a mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be present."
Football game, public library, Perkins, the sidewalk in front of Pat Powers's house, the front pew—if Mom feels like going out, and if baby's feeling noshy, Mom can feed that baby the way only she can.
Well... at least someone in Pierre supports raw milk.
I do have a question about the reach of this proposed law. As written, SB 77 sounds pretty absolute. "Notwithstanding" seems in one swoop to fell every possible legal restriction (though I skim through statute and find no legal restrictions on breastfeeding). "Public or private" seems to declare pretty much any location as the proper domain for moms to carry out that blissful natural function. "Otherwise authorized" seems to say that if you own a restaurant or a rifle range and a customer breaks out the homebrew for Junior, you can't say, "Excuse ma'am, your lactation is bothering other guests, I must ask you to leave;" try it, and your customer may have grounds to haul you to court for infringing on her legal right, enshrined in Senate Bill 77, to feed her child. No breastfeeding rooms, no segregation—Senate Bill 77 makes the right to breastfeed absolute.
...which is fine, right? Kids gotta eat. Moms gotta feed. And that's what breasts are for, right?
Unless someone can conceive of the exceptions to which this policy should be subject, Senate Bill 77 is the real pro-woman, pro-baby, pro-life legislation I've been waiting for, the sort of bill that may boost South Dakota's ranking for truly family-friendly policy... but I can't shake the feeling that Senator Jensen, Rep. DiSanto, and the mostly conservative caucus signed on as sponsors are up to something. Let moms do their thing, and keep your eye on Jensen and DiSanto.
P.S.: The only South Dakota statute I can find dealing explicitly with breast feeding is SDCL 16-13-10.4, which exempts breastfeeding mothers from jury duty. This statute also lets expecting parents and parents of newborns, up to six weeks, skip jury duty. The Legislature passed this law in 2012.