AUGUSTA – Under the Maine Human Rights Act, the right of a “mother” to breast-feed in public is protected. That would all change under a bill, (L.D. 1703 “An Act To Improve Consistency within the Maine Human Rights Act”) that would revise the Maine Human Rights Act removing the word “mother” and replacing it with the word “person.”
The bill, currently in the Maine Senate’s unfinished business but passed by the Maine House, would need to be passed by the Senate in the same form as the House version, because currently the two chambers have approved different versions of the bill.
L.D. 1703 makes a slew of changes to the Maine Human Rights Act to protect certain classes of individuals in the state regarding credit, housing, public accommodations and employment among other areas. But it has also veered off into more controversial topics, such as gender identity in school sports and, as the text shows, breast-feeding.
Under the breast-feeding protections, the bill strikes the word “mother” from state law in two places and replaces it with the word “person.” In another spot, the law would be changed from the pronoun “her” to “the person.”
any other provision of law, a mother may breast-feed her baby in any location,
public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be.”
any other provision of law, a person may breast-feed the person’s baby
in any location, public or private, where the person is otherwise authorized
L.D. 1703 is sponsored by Rep. Donna Bailey (D-Saco). It was submitted at the request of the Maine Human Rights Commission. The amended version of the bill covered in this article was passed with the support of all three members of Democratic leadership: Speaker Sara Gideon and Reps. Ryan Fecteau and Matt Moonen on a party line vote.
Transgender women breastfeeding may seem unlikely, however there is published documentation showing that a transgender woman has successfully breast-fed. Using a regimen of drugs including domperidone (an anti-nausea medication that increases lactation as a side effect) along with estradiol and progesterone a transgender woman in Canada was able to successfully breast feed the couple’s baby after the biological mother decided she did not want to.
Domperidone is not approved by the FDA and thus not available for sale in the United States. It is approved for treatment of certain gastric disorders in some countries outside the U.S., but no country in the world has approved the use of domperidone to increase lactation or to stimulate lactation in a transgender person.
An FDA paper has actually warned women against using domperidone to increase milk production, citing the risk of cardiac arrhythmias, cardiac arrest, and sudden death as well as unknown risks to infants. The Canadian Breastfeeding Foundation also said the manufacturer of domperidone has stated that chronic treatment in rodents has led to increased numbers of breast tumors, but there is no documentation of that increase in humans.
L.D. 1703 has also come under fire for changes to state law around the participation of transgender students in high school sports. Opponents argue that the law does not allow for provisions in use by the Maine Principal’s Association to ensure the safety and competitiveness of single sex sports. They say that the current MPA transgender rule ensures that student athletes are not put in danger and that girls sports remain competitive.
Under L.D. 1703, there are no such provisions and any denial of a transgender athlete to participate in the sport as the gender they say they identify with is deemed “unlawful educational discrimination.”