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Md. case prompts breast-feeding bill

January 12, 2000|By LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - An Anne Arundel County lawmaker wants to make it illegal for a woman to breast-feed someone else's child without permission from the child's parents.

The bill was prompted by an unusual case in his district last year when a Glen Burnie, Md., woman tried to pacify another woman's crying 11-month-old son, said Sen. James E. DeGrange, who introduced the bill Wednesday.

The woman began breast-feeding the child before employees at the Jessup, Md., day care center realized what was happening and could stop her.

The child's parents were upset and worried that the woman could have passed along a disease. They have been taking the baby for blood tests, he said.

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The Anne Arundel County State's Attorney's Office determined no crime had been committed.

If the bill is passed, future parents will have some kind of recourse, DeGrange said.

"It's not that I'm against breast-feeding. It's a health issue," said DeGrange, whose daughter and daughter-in-law are currently breast-feeding his grandchildren.

"I'm thinking of my grandchildren. You need to have accountability at some point," he said.

Before filing the bill, DeGrange consulted wet nurses, women's groups and health care providers, he said.

The penalty for violating the law would be a fine of up to $100.

In the Senate, the bill will be reviewed by the Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Committee member Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, said he didn't know how he'd vote on the bill.

While he agrees that women should not breast-feed stranger's children, he's not sure that enacting a new law is an appropriate response.

"I don't know if we need the government to mandate common sense," he said.

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