Lee’s Summit mom praises Missouri’s passage of bill excusing nursing women from juries

03/31/2014 11:12 PM

03/31/2014 11:12 PM

The Missouri Legislature has approved a bill sponsored by an ailing lawmaker that prevents nursing mothers from being penalized for breast-feeding in public or being required to serve on juries.

Legislative leaders moved quickly to give the bill final approval. It is sponsored by Democrat Rory Ellinger, of University City, who has been diagnosed with liver cancer and has unable to attend legislative sessions.

Under the bill, nursing mothers would be excused from jury duty with a written note. It also states breast-feeding in public or private would not count as sexual conduct or be considered public indecency or obscenity. Local governments could not enact ordinances that restrict breast-feeding.

Senators passed the bill 31-0 on Monday. It passed the House 150-0 last week and now goes to Gov. Jay Nixon.

Laura Trickle, a mother from Lee’s Summit whose objection to serving on a jury last fall while nursing her son, Axel, was instrumental in raising awareness of the issue, said Monday she was pleased.

“I’m an accidental activist,” Trickle said. “It’s not something I really sought out but it was just one of those things. Somebody needed to say something and it’s worked out for the best. If I can make a difference for somebody else so they don’t have to go through what I had to do, then it’s worth it.”

Jackson County Presiding Judge Marco Roldan delayed fining Trickle $500 for failing to serve jury duty pending any change in the law. A hearing is scheduled for June 6 for Trickle and another Jackson County woman who objected to serving while nursing.

Assuming Nixon signs the bill, Roldan is expected to dismiss any court action against the women.

As of late last year, 12 states, including Kansas, had laws exempting nursing mothers from jury service.

“I’m so glad that Missouri is showing support to nursing mothers,” Trickle said. “That’s really important. Its what’s best for babies and for moms, and so it’s good to have the support of the state.”

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