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Jury Duty Exemption for Breastfeeding Women

If you’re like most people, the thought of having to attend jury duty is not on your list of top fun things to do, but as U.S. citizens we know that it is our legal and social responsibility. For many of us, jury duty disrupts our regular routines, some social plans and may require rearranging our work schedule. However, for a breastfeeding mother trying to juggle career, family and daily responsibilities, jury duty can seem near impossible! Luckily, New York state recently passed a law that exempts breastfeeding women from serving on jury duty for up to two years to care for an infant. Governor Andrew Cuomo says, “While jury service is a critically important civic duty, we also know new moms oftentimes juggle countless responsibilities and navigate enormous adjustment in the early stages of their child’s life.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 84% of newborns start breastfeeding at birth, 57% are still breastfeeding at 6 months and only 36% are still breastfeeding at one year.  Many women have good intentions of breastfeeding for as long as they possibly can but variables such as a little cooperation at work, a lack of support from family or the negative stigma associated with breastfeeding in public places, most women call it quits after the first few months.

There are many obstacles thrown at women attempting to breastfeed, especially if they are working moms which we’ve talked about in a previous blog. After seeing his own wife struggle to serve on jury duty while breastfeeding a newborn baby, Assembly Member Marcos Crespo was inspired to get this law passed. “I hope it helps future moms have one less stress factor.”

Realizing that breastfeeding has tremendous health benefits to children, moms, and our community, lawmakers have passed other breastfeeding laws and continue to prioritize legislation that enables women to breastfeed their children at work and in most public places. Since the beginning of 2017, one of the main goals for the New York State Prevention Agenda has been to increase the percentage of babies who are exclusively breastfed (New York state – 44%) to a higher percentage that is closer to the national target of 70%.

The commitment of New York state lawmakers and organizations such as the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in passing legislation, spreading awareness and communicating with communities has led to a steady rise in the percentage of children breastfeeding through their first year.

What’s the process?

  • Call your doctor and get a note verifying that you are breastfeeding
  • Send your note in with your completed postponement application

Exclusion – if you’ve already postponed jury duty at a previous time, you are not eligible to be excused again.

Have more questions about breastfeeding or the latest New York State regulations? We have already written several blogs on this topic that you can refer to or speak with one of Burdett Birth Center’s certified lactation consultants or learn more at our breastfeeding classes and support groups!

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