Today, after a group of lactation counselors filed a lawsuit on Monday, Georgia has agreed to halt enforcement of the state’s lactation consultant licensing law, pending the outcome of the suit. The law, which was set to go into effect on Sunday, July 1, threatened fines of upwards of $500 per day for practicing lactation consultation without a state-issued license. Now, the agreement means Georgia’s 800 Certified Lactation Counselors who are not eligible to obtain a state-mandated license will be able to continue providing services while the lawsuit proceeds.
“Today’s agreement is good for moms, good for newborns and good for the hundreds of lactation consultants facing the prospect of losing their jobs on Sunday,” said Institute for Justice Attorney Wesley Hottot. “We’re not out of the woods yet, but this is an early sign that the state acknowledges the law will harm mothers and babies without providing any public benefit. We’re confident that the courts will recognize this law illegally deprives hundreds of consultants of their right to earn an honest living.”
On Monday, Mary Jackson, an Atlanta-based lactation counselor, and Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE), the nonprofit Mary helped found in 2012, teamed up with the Institute for Justice (IJ) to file a lawsuit challenging Georgia’s unconstitutional licensing law, and preserve the right of the state’s lactation consultants to earn an honest living doing what they love.
Lactation consultants provide hands-on practical breastfeeding advice and support to new mothers. They have been working safely in Georgia for decades without any state license, although many lactation consultants have chosen to become privately certified in their field. There are two predominant certifications: Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). If not for the agreed-upon injunction, on July 1 only IBCLCs would have been eligible to get the state’s new license, and so only IBCLCs would have been allowed to continue working. Mary and the more than 800 other lactation consultants in the state who are CLCs would have been shut out.
“Today’s a good day,” said Mary Jackson. “There is a lot of work ahead of us, but we are thankful that we can go to work on Monday knowing we’re standing up for what is right.”