NPR logo New Health Law's Workplace Breast-Pumping Rule Praised

New Health Law's Workplace Breast-Pumping Rule Praised

By Jennifer Ludden

Women's rights groups are torn over the new health law that President Obama signed.

They don't like the restrictions on funding for abortion, for example. Or the fact that some insurance policies will still be able to charge women more. But there's a little-known provision that's getting rave reviews: new mothers will have the right to pump breast milk at work.

Companies with 50 or more employees must provide a private location — not a bathroom — where mothers can take unpaid breaks as needed. It applies for the first year after a child is born.

Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) has been pushing for this for years. She says it "recognizes that most mothers simply must go back to work during a child's first year." Another supporter, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) has touted it as a way to cut health costs, since studies show breast-fed babies have lower rates of some common illnesses.