Editor's Note: Representative Cooper's office has not responded to the first letter to address concerns for military families. A staffer from Representative Cooper's office responded to the second letter with a statement that she will not be considering any steps to delay implementation. We are deeply disappointed and disheartened by this response, and we remain fearful for the impact this will have on lactation support and breastfeeding initiation and duration rates in Georgia.
Mom2Mom Global and Breastfeeding in Combat Boots recently signed on to an open letter to Georgia state legislators requesting a delay in implementing their Licensing for Lactation Consultants law. We share the concern of Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE) and many national organizations that this law in its current form will have unintended consequences that will increase barriers to trained lactation support and further perpetuate inequities along racial, economic, and cultural divides within the state. A recent report demonstrates that Georgia's maternity mortality rates are alarmingly high, and clearly higher for black families. We are especially concerned with how this new law will impact military families--particularly black military families--stationed in Georgia, who are already struggling to receive access to the breastfeeding counseling services benefit to which they are entitled under Tricare. The Georgia Attorney General's Office released an opinion which explicitly prohibits a large number of lactation peer and professional supporters from continuing to offer their services.
Below is a copy of the full text of the letter that Mom2Mom Global and Breastfeeding in Combat Boots sent specifically addressing the impact of this law on military families, followed by the full text of the open letter sent by several national breastfeeding organizations. If you are stationed in Georgia and impacted by this law, please leave us a comment and tell us your story.
28 February, 2018
The Honorable Sharon Cooper
Chair, Health and Human Services Committee
436 State Capitol
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
The Honorable Renee S. Unterman
Chair, Senate Health and Human Services Committee
121-F State Capital
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
Dear Rep. Cooper and Sen. Unterman,
Mom2Mom Global and Breastfeeding in Combat Boots wholeheartedly support the request by Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere to delay implementation of the Georgia IBCLC Licensure law from July 2018 to July 2019. We echo the concerns of unintended consequences from implementing this law in its current state.
Military families in Georgia already face tremendous barriers accessing adequate lactation support, even though they are entitled to lactation counseling services under Tricare, the military health benefit program. Implementing this law as written in 2018 will have devastating consequences for military families stationed in Georgia, as they will no longer have access to trained lactation professionals in their communities who do not hold IBCLC credentials and will, therefore, be prohibited from providing lactation counseling services. Additionally, military spouses who are trained lactation professionals will find themselves unemployable, widening the income gap between military and civilian households. This law, as currently written, does not support our military troops or their families.
Our population is a just a small fraction of the overall population in the state of Georgia that will be negatively impacted, and we fully support ROSE’s request for more time to thoroughly examine the impact of implementation, and to create a better solution for all families and lactation professionals in Georgia.
Amy Barron Smolinski, MA, ALC, CLC Robyn Roche-Paull, BSN, RNC-MNN, IBCLC
Executive Director Author and Founder
Mom2Mom Global Breastfeeding in Combat Boots