Arika Rodriguez feeds her son, Parker, after giving birth at the Holy Family Birthing Center in Weslaco, Texas, on Sept. 28, 2017.
Arika Rodriguez feeds her son, Parker, after giving birth at the Holy Family Birthing Center in Weslaco, Texas, on Sept. 28, 2017.
Reynaldo Leal for The Texas Tribune

A bill that would allow women to pump breast milk in public has been signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott.

House Bill 541 by state Rep. Mary Gonzalez, D-Clint, expands Texas law to allow women to pump breast milk in public in addition to allowing them to breastfeed. Gonzalez said the bill came from conversations with breastfeeding activists and leaders advocating to “support all maternal realities.” Abbott signed the measure late Monday.

“It’s a simple thing that we did in this piece of legislation, but I think it’s also really symbolic,” Gonzalez said. “It shows that we’re passing laws that are really encouraging and supporting mothers who do choose to breastfeed or use breast milk.”

The bill passed the House in a near unanimous vote of 142-1. State Rep. Tom Oliverson R-Cypress, a physician, was the only member to vote against the bill. The bill also unanimously passed the Senate.

Kristine Keller, a lactation consultant and owner of her own private practice, said the bill will give mothers a more flexible schedule that wasn’t possible before. She added that it would also make it easier for some mothers to return to work.

“The number of moms that go back to work and or use a pump within their breastfeeding relationship is a lot higher than actually documented,” Keller said. “And that support needs to be there for them.”

She said the new law would also give Texas businesses and organizations an opportunity to put in a designated space for women who want to breastfeed or pump breast milk.

The bill will take effect on September 1.

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. Read this story at https://www.texastribune.org/2019/06/11/texas-governor-greg-abbott-breast-milk-pumping-bill/