The Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved a bill aimed to encourage breastfeeding, initiated by Knesset Member Danny Danon to bar hospitals from advertising baby formulas.
Moreover, the bill aims to encourage breastfeeding by stating that newborns will be given formula in hospitals only after receiving a signed consent form from the mothers, rather than the current system which automatically gives them formula unless otherwise specified by the mother.
The purpose of the bill, whose draft was approved earlier this week, is to remove commercial and advertising factors from the hospitals – in order to supposedly give new parents a "better choice" in the matter.
The bill's brief stated that today it is customary for baby food manufacturers to leave free formula samples at maternity wards for mothers who have yet to decide whether to breastfeed or not.
This practice is considered a profitable venture for baby formula manufacturers, who give out millions of formula to maternity wards.
Speaking out in support of the bill MK Danny Danon said: "The bill includes the basic right of every parent to select which nutrition path they wish to follow for the child they brought into the world without having Similac or Materna labels sticking out everywhere."
Meanwhile, a group has already formed an online petition protesting the bill. Led by psychologist Anne Hadar, the petition claims that not only does the bill not fulfill its purpose, it is also infringes on the new mother's rights.
"We, the women who give birth are not little girls who can be summoned like misbehaved schoolgirls and pressured…" the petition stated.
On a section of the bill claiming that "breastfeeding has nutritional, health developmental and psychological advantages for the baby. Side by side with the advantages to the mother, among which is the strengthening of the bond between mother and child", the petitioners ask: "What does that mean? Is a woman who chooses not to breastfeed unable to bond with her baby? Will her connection to her child be any less strong?"
The bill, which will be promoted with the Health Ministry's support, is expected to be brought before the Knesset plenum for its preliminary reading later this week.
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