Washington State Healthy Starts Act A ‘Model for the Nation’: Bill extends reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers, improves breastfeeding support, maternal and infant health practices
May 16, 2017
Statement from Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, CEO and Executive Director of MomsRising.org, a national online and on-the-ground organization of more than 1 million mothers and their families, on the enactment of the Healthy Starts Act in Washington State
“Today, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed the Healthy Starts Act into law – a huge win for the health and wellness of mothers and babies in the state. This bill, which passed with unanimous support in both the State House and Senate, extends reasonable workplace accommodations to pregnant workers and makes big strides in breastfeeding support and maternal and infant health practices.
“The Healthy Starts Act requires workplaces with fifteen or more workers to provide accommodations to pregnant employees, including scheduling flexibility for prenatal appointments. But it goes even further to aid pregnant women and new mothers. The new law requires hospitals providing Medicaid birth services, which account for half of the births in the state, to develop policies to provide immediate skin-to-skin contact and 24-hour in-rooming practices; and establishes a new state advisory group to develop future policy proposals to improve maternal and infant health systems in Washington state.
“MomsRising members across the state worked hard to see this bill become law. Our members took more than 2,000 actions on this issue in the past two years, testified at key hearings, and shared with legislators their stories about the impact this bill would have on Washington mothers.
“The Healthy Starts Act is a model for the nation. Not only does it protect pregnant workers from workplace discrimination, it also supports them through childbirth. We commend Gov. Inslee for signing the bill into law and state legislators for voting for it. It is a significant step forward for workers, mothers and babies in Washington State, as well as our public health and our economy.”