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Florida to Join 12 States in Nursing Exemption for Jury Duty?

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Tampa Tribune: TALLAHASSEE -- A pair of state lawmakers wants to make breastfeeding a legal excuse for mothers to skip jury duty.

breastfeeding mother

House Minority Leader Franklin Sands and Sen. Eleanor Sobel have both filed bills in the last week that would legally exempt potential female jurors from duty if they are breastfeeding a child up to 2 years of age.

Sands, D-Weston, said the issue had not honestly occurred to him until he received an email from a Broward County constituent who had been unable to avoid jury duty while breastfeeding and was then berated at court for bringing her child with her.

"It was like a light bulb went off," Sands said. "I think it's a no-brainer."

If adopted, the law would add Florida to a list of 12 states including California, Idaho, Illinois, Mississippi and Virginia that allow breastfeeding mothers to opt out. Puerto Rico likewise provides the option.

Sobel, D-Hollywood, said the law would make Florida's jury laws more "family friendly" and "help newborns with a healthier start."

Federal health officials have declared it a goal to increase the proportion of mothers who breastfeed, which has been found to improve infant health through the transmission of protective antibodies. Forty-three states including Florida have passed laws permitting women to breastfeed in public, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

House leaders have assigned the bill to two committees including the Criminal & Civil Justice Policy Council, where chairman William Snyder said he had not yet seen the bill but thought it sounded reasonable.

"Yes, of course; I can't imagine why not," said Snyder, R-Stuart. "My initial thought is, that sounds ultimately fair."

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6 comments so far | Post a comment now
ame i. October 7, 2009, 2:22 PM

It is a no-brainer. Neither of my daughters would take a bottle, even with breast milk,until they were 6 months old. My older daughter cried if presented with a bottle.
I was excused a few months ago because my husband works 90 miles from home. My 11 year old’s school doesn’t offer bus service& even if they did, I wouldn’t be comfortable with having a 9 & 11 year old home alone.

Heather Wifall October 7, 2009, 2:46 PM

Its a bit stupid. I live in FL and you automatically get excused if you are the primary caretaker of a child under 4. A bit redundant, if you ask me.

littlepeapie October 7, 2009, 5:21 PM

Alabama does this already……great move, Florida!

Shari October 7, 2009, 6:58 PM

I got excused from Jury duty twice, once for each child as I was called while breastfeeding them.

Lindsey October 7, 2009, 8:37 PM

Note that CA doesn’t excuse you from jury service if breastfeeding, but rather delays your service for a set period of time (can’t remember whether it’s 6 months or a year) before recalling you. Even still, it’s a good system.

Arnita Sindelar February 11, 2011, 4:00 AM

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