Mothers' rights

Mother's rights are the legal obligations for expecting mothers, existing mothers, and adoptive mothers in the United States. Issues that involve mothers' rights include labor rights, breast feeding, and family rights.

Labor rights

Labor rights for mothers in the United States consist of maternal leave during the various stages of pregnancy as well as when the baby is born and afterwards. They also include work procedures for new mothers returning to their workplace after giving birth. The time women are allowed to take off for childbirth is referred to as maternity leave. Each state and company has its own laws regarding the allotted time allowed off for family leave, as well as any other support given to new mothers. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) has set laws for companies across the board setting the minimum requirements for maternity leave. The regulations set by FMLA apply to mothers, fathers, and adoptive parents. The act requires most companies to allow up to 12 weeks of non-paid family leave.[1]

Breast feeding

Breast feeding is the act of supplying nutrients to an infant with human breast milk by means of breast or bottle.[2] There are specific laws in place in each state regarding breast feeding as well as federal laws. Every state except for Idaho has a law that allows women to breast-feed in any public or private location. Although the majority of states allow breast feeding anywhere, only 29 states exempt breast feeding from public indecency laws, meaning the exposure of nudity in public.[3] The federal laws concerning breast feeding mothers relate to working mothers. Once mothers return to work there are also laws set in place for nursing mothers while they are at work. Employers are required to allow these mothers reasonable break time when they express the need to discard their milk supply for up to a year after they have given birth. They are also required to provide a private and secluded place, other than a restroom, for these mothers to discard their milk supply. These laws can be found in The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.[4]

Family rights for mothers

Mother's have many rights that relate to family law including making decisions on behalf of their children including medical decisions as well as who is around their child. Mother's also have the legal right to pursue their child's father for child support.

Parental Rights

Each state has their own specific laws regarding a mother's legal rights and responsibility to her child. All legal statue declares that the mother or parents are allowed to make the decisions regarding a child's education, religion, medical care, and deciding where the child will live. A biological mother, fathers married to the mother before or after the child's birth, and as of 2003, fathers on their child's birth certificate are automatically given this legal right for their child.[5]

Child Custody and Support

Although a mother has certain custody rights when there is a battle for custody it is still the court's responsibility to choose the best circumstance for the child.


  1. "Maternity Leave". American Pregnancy Association Promoting Pregnancy Wellness. American Pregnancy Association. Retrieved 2015. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  2. "Breastfeeding and Breast Milk: Condition Information". Retrieved 2015. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  3. National Conference of State Legislatures. "BREASTFEEDING STATE LAWS". NCSL. Retrieved 2015. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. US Department of Labor. "Break Time for Nursing Mothers". Wage and Hour Division. Retrieved 2015. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  5. "Parental Responsibility". Rights of Women Helping Women Through the Law. Retrieved 2015. |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help); Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
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