New York Governor Andrew Cuomo approved a bill providing breastfeeding mothers an exemption from jury duty.
Under the new law, the Commissioner of Jurors shall excuse a prospective juror, who is a breastfeeding mother or postpone the time of her jury service for up to two years.
A breastfeeding mother shall submit an application to postpone her jury duty. The applicant must support her application with a note from a physician confirming that she is breastfeeding. The applicant must not have been previously granted an excuse or postponement from jury duty.
In a statement, Gov. Cuomo said, “While jury service is a critically important civic duty, we also know new moms oftentimes juggle countless responsibilities and navigate enormous adjustments in the early stages of their child’s life.”
“This commonsense measure takes that reality into account by providing new moms the flexibility and option to postpone jury service while they care for a newborn,” he added.
On the other hand, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, commented, “We are working to increase access and reduce the stigma for breastfeeding mothers in New York…This action builds on our efforts as part of the Women’s Justice Agenda, working to achieve equality and justice for all New Yorkers. We will not stop fighting to make sure women’s rights are protected, and attain true gender equality once and for all.”
Postponing jury duty ensures that a mother and child’s health is a priority
The sponsors of the legislation, New York State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and Assembly Member Marcos Crespo thanked the Governor for signing it into law.
According to Sen. Montgomery, “Nursing mothers have extraordinary commitments and this new law will remove one extra source of stress for them.” She added that the newly-signed law provides “some real relief” to breastfeeding women.”
Meanwhile, Assembly Member Crespo said, “For years I advanced this bill understanding that breastfeeding is a crucial step in the development of a child and often can be an emotionally and physically challenging experience for women. The ability to postpone a nursing mother’s jury duty will ensure that priority is placed first and foremost on the mother and the child’s health while maintaining the opportunity to fulfill one’s civic duty at a later time.”