HEALTH

Is public breastfeeding in public indecent exposure?

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A woman filed a complaint with the D.C. Office of Human Rights after she was accused of indecent exposure by a security guard when she breastfeeding her baby.

The woman, Simone Dos Santos, was breastfeeding her 4-month-old in the hallway of a D.C. government building. She was covering the baby with a jacket at the time.

“We as nursing mothers have rights,” she says.

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The incident started when she was waiting for a traffic hearing after she ran a red light. Dos Santos, a lawyer, stepped out of the crowded waiting room and into a hallway to breastfeed her child.

Two security guards, however, told her she couldn’t breastfeed and it was indecent. She was shocked.

D.C. and 28 states, including Virginia, exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws. That means she’s legally protected.

While the case is under investigation, Dos Santos wants to get a message out to the public.

“It's a natural, legally protected process and people need to understand that,” she says.

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