March 20, 2009
Katie Hluchyj (’08) facilitates newly signed Breastfeeding Bill with her work in the Legislative Clinic
Now a clerk for Judge James McHugh at the Massachusetts Appeals Court, Katie Hluchyj (’08) helped to make history while she was still a BU Law student. In the Legislative Counsel Clinic, she worked on breastfeeding legislation for Senator Susan Fargo (D – Lincoln). This year, MA Governor Deval Patrick signed the bill into law, expanding women’s rights in the state.
The current law now gives mothers the right to breastfeed in public places – a right Hluchyj said was a long time coming. “Before Governor Patrick signed this bill into law, Massachusetts was one of only a few states with no law to protect breastfeeding mothers and babies from prosecution under indecency laws or from harassment,” she said. “I found it odd that such a progressive state would be among the last to encourage breastfeeding in this way.”
The new law states: “The act of a mother breastfeeding her child, and any exposure of a breast incidental to, and solely for the purpose of such act, shall not be considered as lewd, indecent or immoral, unlawful conduct in any public or private location.”
Although the legislation is a victory for Massachusetts mothers, Hluchyj believes the law should go even further. “Several states have enacted statutes that make it easier for working mothers to breastfeed by requiring employers to provide clean space and unpaid break time for women to express breast milk during working hours, or by rewarding employers for taking such actions voluntarily,” she said.
Hluchyj became interested in the project because of her work with the Medical-Legal Partnership for Children, where she interned during her 2L summer. She said the Legislative Counsel Clinic was one of her favorite experiences at BU Law. "Professor Kealy found great projects for us to work on, like this one, and really helped us make the most of our experience at the State House,” she said.
Next year, Hluchyj will clerk for Justice Margot Botsford at the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. She then plans to pursue a career in legal services work.