Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Michele Bachmann's Got it All Wrong

Minnesota Republican, Michele Bachmann, seems to think a tax deduction on supplies used for expressing human milk is the equivalent of a "nanny state." She must not have all of the information, so I'm going to share what she's missing.

Benefits to the Government

"To think that government has to go out and buy my breast pump for my babies? You wanna talk about the nanny state, I think you just got a new definition."

Ms. Bachmann must not realize that a tax deduction does not mean the government pays for the equipment in-full. It just means the $150-$200 that someone spends on a breast pump is not part of taxable income. It can be paid for by money from a Health Savings Account (HSA) or can be deducted on a tax return for someone who chooses to itemize deductions. With taxable income anywhere from 10%-35% depending on income level and filing status, that amounts to $15-$70 per breast pump purchased. I don't know how many pumps were purchased last year, but I'm willing to bet revenues reduced by those deductions don't come close to the expense of denying women access to adequate breastfeeding support.

According to the United States Breastfeeding Committee, a non-profit advocacy group, women spend $500-$1000 per year on breast pumps and supplies. This is primarily so that women can return to work and provide expressed milk for caretakers to give their children. Women are spending this money themselves, not the government. Do you know what breastfeeding can save the US? 13 billion dollars. 

If 90% of US families could comply with medical recommendations to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, the United States would save $13 billion per year and prevent an excess 911 deaths, nearly all of which would be in infants ($10.5 billion and 741 deaths at 80% compliance).  PEDIATRICS (doi:10.1542/peds.2009-1616)

Benefits to Children and Families

"...and prevent an excess 911 deaths." Someone who claims to be pro-life needs to look at that figure. Michelle Bachmann needs to care about babies after they're born, too. No one is saying that women have to breastfeed. Regulations just make it easier for women who want to provide human milk to their children without undue burden.

  • Breast milk has antibacterial and antiviral agents, changes to meet the baby's need, and has growth hormones appropriate for human babies.
  • Breastfeeding lets the baby control his/her appetite
  • For the mother, breastfeeding helps prevent post-partum hemorrhage and reduces the risk of breast, uterine and cervical cancers.
  • Breastfeeding helps mothers and babies bond through the release of prolactin and oxytocin.

Benefits to Employers

According to the Department of Health and Human Services:
Corporate lactation services have been shown to reduce absenteeism, reduce health care costs, improve productivity, and employee morale.
While some employers may not recognize or understand these benefits, it is ultimately in the best interest of the company to provide a space to pump and allow breaks to ensure women can express enough milk for their children.

For a full list of breastfeeding benefits for baby, mom, and society, check out this site with references: Advantages of Breastfeeding

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