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Breastfeeding advocate: Honolulu shelter acted lawfully

By Jennifer Sinco Kelleher

LAST UPDATED: 11:57 a.m. HST, Jul 3, 2014

A national breastfeeding advocacy organization said a Honolulu homeless shelter is legally allowed to require a resident to nurse while covered or in a private room.

Best for Babes Foundation's director of activism Michelle Hickman said Hawaii's public accommodation law doesn't apply to the Institute for Human Services' shelter. Hickman said the shelter is considered a residential area, likening it to the government not being able to tell people what to do in their own homes.

Karen Penley contacted the news media after shelter employees told her she could not nurse out in the open. She said they violated her rights to breastfeed in a way that's comfortable for her and her baby.

Executive Director Connie Mitchell said on Thursday she's relieved to know the shelter's rights but will respect Penley's breastfeeding.

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