Feb 29, 2016 2:48 PM
CONCORD - Public morality faced off against personal freedom over legislation to make it a crime only for women to show off their breasts in public on Monday.
The proposed bill would exempt breastfeeding from the ban.
Sponsors maintain the bill is needed to avoid a reduction in tourism growing out of so-called "Free the Nipple" protests held in Gilford and on the Seacoast last summer.
A judge in the Gilford case last month dismissed citations against two women after concluding the state does not have a prohibition on going topless in public.
Opponents of the bill say it’s an unconstitutional violation of free speech and adopting it would sully the state’s Live Free or Die image.
A Manchester Democratic state legislator became the target of attacks from conservative Republican lawmakers after she took to Facebook to criticize it.
One legislator posted that if the female legislator wanted to go topless in public he should be able to touch it in response.
House Speaker Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, condemned those comments and tried to get the full House to prevent this bill from coming forward in the 2016 session.
The House voted instead to admit it for debate.