The Missouri House of Representatives has unanimously approved a measure to allow breastfeeding mothers to nurse in public, as well as to be excused from jury duty.
Missouri House Bill No. 1320 gives nursing moms statewide protection against the state's definition of sexual conduct and laws governing indecent exposure.
The bill also removes the ability of Missouri's towns and cities from enacting ordinances contrary to the provisions outlined in the bill.
Bill co-sponsor Jill Schupp (D) is calling the House's 150-0 approval of the measure a victory for mothers as well as the criminal justice system.
"It puts forward the importance of women nurturing and nursing their children," Schupp said. "It allows that to take precedence over the also important responsibility of serving on a jury.
Under the proposal, breastfeeding women would have the ability to be excused from jury duty if they obtain a doctor's note.
The bill was approved on the heels of an incident where a Lee's Summit woman was held in contempt of court for bringing her seven month-old son to jury selection.
"I think people know the value and importance of being able to nurse your child," Schupp said. "Those health values and those connections, I think the public is absolutely ready for this."
Around Jefferson City, however, people had mixed reaction to the bill.
"It's good," said Kansas City resident Misha Hill. "It surprises me that the House of Representatives is keeping breastfeeding moms in mind."
"I think anyone who can possibly make arrangements to serve on jury should do so," said Jefferson City Resident Joyce Prawl. "I know from personal experience there are other means by which you can express your milk and take care of your children that way."
"I can see the point of maybe excusing them for that reason, but then again I think that if all possible they should serve on jury duty," said Jefferson City resident Geneva Rackers.
The bill has moved to the Senate for consideration.