By Jedidiah McKeehan
When a mom is breastfeeding their child in public, that act is generally considered socially acceptable in this day and age. It may not be that commonplace, and it may seem a little unusual, but it is legal. In fact, there are a few laws in Tennessee that specifically speak as to the legality of breastfeeding in public in Tennessee.
There are actually three Tennessee laws that specifically address breastfeeding. Tennessee Code Annotated sections 68-58-101, 68-58-102, and 68-58-103. Every single one of these laws is very short. Let’s dive in to them and see what they say.
68-58-101 is titled “Right to breastfeed in any location” and states, “A mother has a right to breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be present.” Okay, so this basically states a mom can breastfeed anywhere unless she is trespassing somewhere. It is probably unlikely that she would be trespassing with an infant in tow, so mom can probably breastfeed anywhere she wants.
68-58-102 is titled “Breastfeeding not to be considered criminal offense,” and states, “The act of breastfeeding shall not be considered: (1) public indecency; or (2) nudity, obscene, or sexual conduct.” Alright, so this law reinforces the idea that breastfeeding is legal and it is not a criminal act. The legislature even went so far as to specifically state in this laws that it is not a criminal offense to breastfeed in the actual title of the law.
68-58-103 is titled “Preemption of local ordinances,” and states “A unit of local government shall not prohibit breastfeeding in public by local ordinance.” So here, Tennessee legislatures state in no uncertain terms, “we do not care how conservative a county or city you want to be, you are not banning moms from breastfeeding in public and you are not charging them with crimes for doing such.”
That is it. Those three laws are the sum and the whole of the Tennessee laws on breastfeeding.
Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties. He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit attorney-knoxville.com for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.