Local News
12:39 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

In Light of Kentucky Kingdom Controversy, What Are The State's Laws on Breastfeeding?

Credit Joseph Lord/WFPL News

Social media in Louisville lit up Thursday with conversation about a local woman who, while breast feeding at Kentucky Kingdom, was allegedly asked by a staff member to finish in a public bathroom.

Some women were upset at what they saw as a violation of their rights under state law, and questions were raised about where a woman can breastfeed her child and whether she needs to cover her breast during the feeding.

The woman who reported the incident posted a picture of her feeding her baby under a cover. But whether she was covered or not, public nursing is within her right under state law. Under KRS 211.755, which has been on the books since 2006, a mother can breastfeed her baby in any public place where she has a right to be. Here’s the law:

1)        Not withstanding any other provision of the law, a mother may breastfeed her baby
or express breastmilk in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise
authorized to be.  Breastfeeding a child or expressing breastmilk as part of breastfeeding
shall not be considered an act of public indecency and shall not be considered indecent
exposure, sexual conduct, lewd touching, or obscenity.
(2)        A municipality may not enact an ordinance that prohibits or restricts a mother
breastfeeding a child or expressing breastmilk in a public or private location where the
mother and child are otherwise authorized to be.  In a municipal ordinance, indecent
exposure, sexual conduct, lewd touching, obscenity, and similar terms do not include the act
of a mother breastfeeding a child in a public or private location where the mother and child
are otherwise authorized to be.
(3)        No person shall interfere with a mother breastfeeding her child in any location,
public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be.

Because the mother was authorized to be in Kentucky Kingdom because she paid the admission fee, she was allowed to breastfeed her baby in public in the park, if she wished.

When the news broke, Kentucky Kingdom initially released a statement on Facebook, telling mothers they were welcome to breastfeed anywhere in the park, as long as they use “discretion.”

In a released statement Friday, Kentucky Kingdom President Ed Hart said the amusement park had "absolutely no restrictions" on breastfeeding. Hart added: 

Regarding displaying 'discretion,' we will leave it up to mom to make that determination and in no way will our staff interfere with mom’s decision. We have instructed our staff accordingly. I am sorry for any confusion this issue has caused, and I personally apologize if we have offended anyone.

In response to the incident, women planned to nurse their babies publicly at Kentucky Kingdom's gates tomorrow, but the event was canceled after Hart released his statement. Update: This may be back on.

Disclosure: In 2012, Hart made a $250,000 challenge grant to WFPL's parent organization, Louisville Public Media, that led to the creation of the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.