Mar 2, 2016 1:51 PM

NH House committee opposes passage of ban on showing female nipples

CONCORD - A proposed law that would have penalized women who showed their nipples in public, except for breastfeeding, did not win approval from a key committee of lawmakers.

The N.H. House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted 19-0 this week to recommend against passage of the bill when it goes to the full House. The full body of the House will have an opportunity to uphold or overturn that recommendation and could still pass the bill if they choose.

In explaining their opposition to the proposal, committee member John Burt, a Republican from Goffstown, said the committee had heard testimony that the law, if adopted, would lead to court challenges.

"The committee heard testimony from many who warned that, due to likely acts of civil disobedience, the state would face expensive court fees should this become law," he wrote.

Given that the law would apply only to women, Burt said the committee believes it violates the constitution. Furthermore, they saw little call for the legislation.

"In a state with a nippy average temperature of only 46 degrees, the risk of rampant nudity seems rather low," the statement that will be going to the rest of the House membership concludes.

The ban follows several events this summer where women from a "Free the Nipple" went topless at New Hampshire beaches, arguing the female nipple should be de-sexualized and should not be considered any differently than a male nipple.

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