Merkley, moms to push federal breast-feeding legislation

WASHINGTON — Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, a self-described “champion” of breast-feeding, will be surrounded by mothers and their babies today at a “nurse in” designed to draw attention to federal legislation guaranteeing mothers the right to breast-feed their children at their workplaces.

“We should adopt this as a society as a key public health strategy and urge mothers to breast-feed while working,” Merkley said in an interview Wednesday. “This is something that combines common health care sense with family values.”

The bill that Merkley will introduce in the U.S. Senate today is similar to a law Oregon has had in place since last year that sets basic rules for businesses, providing mothers time to nurse or express breast milk while at work.

“The bill that passed was seen as a national model,” said Merkley, a Democrat. “The key components were, women need flexibility in their breaks, and they need privacy.”