‘Licensing lactation consultants does nothing to protect public health and safety…’

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(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) The state of Georgia recently passed a law that threatens the jobs and livelihoods of lactation consultants, forcing them to obtain costly licenses despite their years of training and experience.

The new law, signed by Gov. Nathan Deal, requires professionals who help new mothers with breastfeeding to get certified by the state by July 2018.

It applies to women who have worked in this field for years, forcing them to gain approval from a private group, the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners.

The law also creates a lactation consultant advisory board made up of five members that will have the authority to draft regulations and set fees for licenses.

Mary Jackson, a Georgia resident who has worked as a lactation consultant for more than 30 years, is suing the state, claiming the law is unconstitutional and prevents her from earning an honest living.

She — along with hundreds of other women — has safely provided breastfeeding advice and support to new mothers for years, without a costly certification.

Now, to maintain her business, Jackson must take nearly two years of college courses and complete more than 300 hours of supervised clinical work.

“Licensing lactation consultants does nothing to protect public health and safety,” Wesley Hotot, an attorney at the Institute for Justice, which represents Jackson, said in a statement. “This license will harm the public by making it harder — if not impossible — for new moms to find someone to help them with breastfeeding. In Georgia, the courts have a responsibility to strike down unnecessary and burdensome regulations that have no clear public benefit. We expect the court to strike down this law.”

IJ says no other state has required licenses of lactation consultants, so Georgia’s new law is unprecedented and unwarranted.

If the law isn’t stopped, there will be a severe shortage of lactation consultants in the state, IJ said.

There are nearly 1,100 consultants in Georgia, but only 300 of them will be able to continue working if the law goes into effect in July.

“Everyday I go to work with a smile on my face because I’m doing something I love — helping moms help their newborns,” Jackson said in a statement. “I don’t want to give that up, and I shouldn’t have to. I’m passionate about breastfeeding and I do everything I can to make sure moms in minority, rural and at-risk communities, regardless of their socioeconomic status, have access to quality lactation support from qualified lactation supporters.

“But now, if the courts don’t intervene, hundreds of my colleagues across the state will be out of a job, unable to continue to help their community, and thousands of moms will be left without the help they need.”