Texas Health & Safety Code, Section 165.002 - Right to Breastfeed in Texas

Elizabeth Ann Zapata, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The language used in Section 165.002 of the Texas Health and Safety Code renders breastfeeding women vulnerable and susceptible to harassment, discrimination, and persecution via the Texas Penal Code, Sec. 30.05 (Criminal Trespassing), Sec. 21.08 (Indecent Exposure), and Sec. 21.22 (Indecency with a Child). The overall goal of this paper is to develop a solution to this problem via a proposed law or legislative action that offers protection and support for breastfeeding women who choose to nurse in public. Data to inform these recommendations were collected through a literature review and structured interviews with several breastfeeding stakeholders. A literature review of state and federal breastfeeding legislation was conducted to compare and contrast differences between existing legislation in the United States. Interviews were conducted with breastfeeding legislation stakeholders, which included state legislators who have been active in breastfeeding legislation, breastfeeding mothers, and representatives from the Central Texas Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition (Centex HMHB Coalition), Texas Breastfeeding Coalition (TXBF coalition), La Leche League International, and the Texas Business Association. Data from the literature and legislation reviews and interviews were transcribed and examined for common themes using qualitative data techniques. Overall, most of the stakeholders came to a general consensus on three points, (1) breastfeeding women are supported by stakeholders within the community, (2) other legislation or penal codes should not override the right to breastfeed, and (3) the current breastfeeding legislation needs to be improved to adequately support breastfeeding women. The interviews with breastfeeding legislation stakeholders yielded two major recommendations for the improvement of Section 165.002 of the Texas Health and Safety Code: advocacy efforts to change the wording of the legislation and education to inform people about the legislation. The right to breastfeed is an important public health issue in that it provides a host of health benefits for mothers and children, and is more economical and environmentally superior to alternative feeding methods. While breastfeeding in public is not illegal nor ever has been, adequate legislation is important to affirm this right for women so that they can confidently feed their children without embarrassment or harassment.

Subject Area

Womens studies|Public health|Political science|Public policy

Recommended Citation

Zapata, Elizabeth Ann, "Texas Health & Safety Code, Section 165.002 - Right to Breastfeed in Texas" (2010). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1474832.