Mary Jackson

Mary Jackson

Mary Jackson, a Certified Lactation Counselor, has been educating Georgia mothers for decades on how to breastfeed their babies, but a new law will leave women like her out of work. 

She's suing, alongside the Institute for Justice and her organization Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere, to make sure CLCs across the state can continue to help nursing mothers. A law taking effect July 1 requires anyone who makes a living helping mothers breastfeed to obtain an an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant certification in order to get a license from the state.

The Decatur-based woman co-founded ROSE in 2011 "to address breastfeeding disparities to improve health equity among people of color nationwide through culturally competent training, education, advocacy and support," according to the nonprofit's website.

Part of her work involves training physicians, nurses and nutritionists to provide patient care on breastfeeding, Jackson said.

"I love going to work to support mothers and to give mothers information and support so they can make a better choice for their families," Jackson said.

Starting July 1, Georgia's Lactation Consultant Practice Act goes into effect, and changes who can and cannot work as a lactation consultant. 

Consultants would have to be certified as a International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in order to receive a license and work legally in the state. 

Because IBCLC certification is expensive, requiring two years of college and at least 300 clinical hours, the act would disqualify more than 800 lactation consultants from working legally, according to the Institute for Justice.

Georgia's Occupational Regulation Review Council has said, "The CLC is equally as qualified to provide care and services as an IBCLC in several settings including hospitals and clinics" to people seeking general education and assistance on breastfeeding.

The organization further stated that if legislation were to prohibit CLCs from providing services, women would face a greater risk of harm "because the majority of lactation consultant providers would no longer be able to provide care."

The act allows dentists and medical doctors to give such advice, as long as it is "incidental" to their work.