A group that advocates for women has ideas on how to improve working conditions for moms-to-be in South Dakota and will bring legislation this coming session.

It’s a bill that was first brought forward a year ago that had bi-partisan support, but died in committee. Samantha Spawn of NARAL Pro Choice South Dakota says the rules would protect women who want to work during their pregnancy.

“This would provide common-sense, very low-cost accommodations for pregnant workers such as being able to have a water bottle (nearby), taking restroom breaks when necessary and having a stool to sit down on when you are at a cash register. These accommodations do make a big difference when you are pregnant and working.”

Another portion of the bill sets aside a private place to express breast milk after baby has arrived. In her own experience, Spawn struggled in providing for her child.

“We’re making sure that women who choose to breastfeed are able to continue to do that while they are going back to work. I did it and it involved a janitor’s closet, but it was important to me and I was committed to provide that for my daughter. Raven (Industries) redid their building and they made sure they put in places where women were able to do that, but not all businesses currently have that.”

South Dakota enacted a law in 2015 that allows mothers to breastfeed in public or private, but Spawn says this rule would specifically assist employees in their time of need.

A year ago former Representative Paula Hawks was a prime sponsor of a similar bill and NARAL is looking for someone to take up the mantle in the coming session.

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