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Bill exempting breast-feeding moms from jury duty in Utah passes committee

Posted at 9:57 PM, Feb 04, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY -- People are always trying to get out of jury duty, but, in Utah, one excuse that will not fly is if you're a mother who is breast-feeding.

"It surprises me that it's a problem that we even have to address," said Rep. Mike McKell, R-District 66.

McKell decided it was time the state change its rules after a woman in Utah County contacted him about an issue with a 4th District judge in Utah County.

"She had had a baby and was post-baby about 6 weeks," McKell said. "She was forced to buy a pump and serve jury duty."

The incident prompted him to sponsor HB154, which stipulates that a mother who is breast-feeding be excused from jury duty.

"It seems to me that would be an obvious undue hardship, what the law says right now," McKell said. "And it's interesting that somewhere across Utah County a judge felt otherwise."

Currently, 16 states across the country have laws exempting breast-feeding mothers from serving on a jury. However, Utah's lack of legislation leaves the discretion up to the judge, which proponents argued makes things more confusing.

"This bill provides moms piece of mind. This bill is really good for moms and really good for babies," said Lacey Smith, a postpartum doula.

The proposal passed the House Judiciary Committee unanimously Wednesday afternoon. It now goes to the house floor for further consideration.