Following action by the ACLU and numerous sister organizations, the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC), the organization that administers the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), recently announced a new lactation policy for nursing mothers. The new policy allows nursing mothers, to request extended or additional breaks to pump during the LSAT, for up to one year following childbirth.
The ACLU Women’s Rights Project got involved after MomsRising contacted us about one of their members, Ashley, who was denied a lactation-related modification and was told she would either have to take the test without additional time to pump, wean her baby in time for the test date, or take the test when she was no longer breastfeeding. She took the test anyway, but had to pump on the bathroom floor during the one 15 minute break during the test.
LSAC’s policy change represents a drastic turnaround. Previously, LSAC’s blanket policy was to deny all modifications of testing procedures to nursing mothers (such as additional break time or the ability to bring a breast pump into the testing site) because nursing moms are not considered “disabled.” This policy placed a burden on nursing mothers: denying breastfeeding women the time to pump during a half-day test, when babies generally eat every two to three hours, can cause pain, reduction in milk supply, and possible infection. Furthermore, the pain and distraction caused by not being able to pump could lead to a lower test score. The policy effectively forced nursing mothers to choose between taking the test under these difficult conditions or waiting to take the test until they are no longer breastfeeding, which could make a major difference in their life plans, given that the test is only administered four times a year. As practically all U.S. law schools use the LSAT as one of the central admissions criteria, LSAC’s former policy was a barrier to women seeking entry into the legal profession. It also reinforced the message that new moms belong at home—not pursuing their career plans.
On the anniversary of Title IX, we are glad LSAC has changed its policy to remove this barrier for breastfeeding women pursuing a legal education.