Vail Daily column: The law of breasts in Colorado | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: The law of breasts in Colorado

Rohn K. Robbins
Vail Law
Vail, CO Colorado

This week’s cover of Time magazine has stirred up a controversy. The cover and the cover story deal with the topic of “attachment parenting.” Like any parent who’s got a kid or two in college doesn’t understand the term “attachment”!

Anyway, on the face of the controversial weekly is a photo which is creating steam in its own right. In it, a 26-year old mom – breast partially exposed – looks defiantly down the lens of photographer Martin Schoeller’s camera with her almost-4-year-old son, dressed in cammo cargo pants and standing on a pre-school slat back chair, well … let’s just say, “latched on.” Maybe I’m reading too much into it but, to me at least, his look is more one of chagrin than satisfaction.

Oh my.

Anyway, considering the ruckus the story and the photo have generated, it seems a propitious moment to take a discreet peek at breasts. Ah … the law of breasts anyway.

You mean to tell me that there are even laws concerning breasts? Well, in 10 words or less, “yep.”

There are laws about breast feeding, laws about breast touching, laws about breast showing, laws about breast cancer, laws about special breast cancer awareness license plates, and laws about the sexual exploitation and/or corruption of children, but to name a few.

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In 2004, then-Colorado Gov. Bill Owens signed into law a new set of statutes encouraging breast feeding for the first six months of a baby’s life. The law observed that “there are diverse and compelling advantages to breastfeeding for infants, mothers, families, and society.” The legislation further observed that “breastfeeding results in substantial benefits to society, including reduced health care costs, reduced environmental damage, reduced governmental spending on the women, infants, and children supplementary feeding programs, and reduced employee absenteeism for care attributable to infant illness” and, more, that “breastfeeding is a basic and important act of nurturing that should be encouraged in the interests of maternal and infant health.”

The legislative declaration, in enacting the law, at least in part, expressly, encouraged “removal of societal boundaries placed on breastfeeding in public.” Accordingly, the law provided, explicitly, boldly and simply that “a mother may breastfeed in any place she has a right to be.” Camo cargo pants, slat back kindergarten chairs, Mom in a low slung navy singlet, and Time magazine covers are all conspicuously absent from the legislation.

As regards breast cancer, there are various laws on the books, including ones establishing programs for breast cancer screening. Among the provisions of the law are the “creation and development of a breast cancer screening program, undertaken by private contract for services or operated by the department (of health), that will improve the availability of breast cancer screening and which may include the purchase, maintenance and staffing of a truck, a van, or any other vehicle suitably equipped to perform breast cancer screening” and “to provide such further breast cancer diagnostic screening services, as may be indicated” as well as “the creation and operation of a referral service for the benefit of women for whom further examination or treatment is indicated by the breast cancer screening.”

There is also a law pertaining to breast and cervical cancer prevention and treatment programs. The express purpose of this law is “to provide for the prevention and treatment of breast and cervical cancer to women where it is not otherwise available for reasons of cost.” The program was established to create “a breast and cervical cancer prevention and treatment program to provide medical benefits to eligible persons.” Accordingly, a special fund was created in the state treasury. At last, your tax dollars are hard at work in the name of a worthwhile cause. If you have been diagnosed through a Women’s Wellness Connection site, are between 40 and 64 years old, have an income less than 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, have not had a mammogram or Pap smear test in the last year, do not have health insurance or it does not cover breast or cervical cancer treatment, are not currently enrolled in Medicaid and are not eligible for Medicare, and are U.S. citizen or qualified non-citizen, you may qualify. Information may be found at http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/pp/cwcci/index.html.

As to license plates, by legislative action effective July 2006, special breast cancer awareness “vanity” license plates became available in this state. Alas teen boys, there are as yet no breast awareness plates.

To touch a child (whether through or under clothing) on the breasts, or developing or undeveloped breast area “for the purpose of real or simulated overt sexual gratification or stimulation” may amount to “erotic fondling” and may, accordingly, amount to the crime of sexual exploitation of a child. Sexual exploitation of a child is a Class 3 felony. Showing sexually explicit materials to children, including a woman’s bare breast, may also be a crime. High-brow stuff like Time is presumably excluded.

Included under the definition of unlawful sexual behavior is touching a female’s breasts without consent. Such conduct can constitute, depending on the circumstances, unlawful sexual contact or sexual assault.

Baring one’s breasts in public may amount to an act of public indecency which is a Class 1 petty offense. Taking pictures of bare breasts, without consent, where the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, amounts to criminal invasion of privacy and constitutes a Class 2 misdemeanor. This raises some interesting questions about such things as public locker rooms which may deserve a separate column.

Breasts can show up in liquor licensing as well and where breasts and liquor service are involved, the combination could cause the licensee suspension or revocation of her license.

Breasts, you see, are everywhere. Even in the law. And you would do well to know a thing or two about them, attachment parenting or otherwise.

Rohn K. Robbins is an attorney licensed before the bars of Colorado and California who practices in the Vail Valley with the law firm of Stevens, Littman, Biddision, Tharp and Weinberg LLC. His practice areas include business and commercial transactions, real estate and development, family law, custody, divorce and civil litigation. He may be heard on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. on KZYR radio (97.7 FM) and seen on ECOTV 18 as host of “Community Focus.” Robbins may be reached at 970-926-4461 or at either of his e-mail addresses, robbins@slblaw.com or robbins@colorado.net