By Catherine E. Shoichet
Venezuelan lawmakers are weighing whether to ban the use of baby bottles as part of a push to promote breast-feeding, state media reported.
The proposed measure will be up for debate in the South American country's National Assembly on Tuesday, lawmaker Odalis Monzon said in an interview with state-run VTV.
"Every baby has the right to breast-feeding," said Monzon, a lawmaker from the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela.
In addition to banning bottle-feeding, the proposed revisions to Venezuela's Law of Promotion and Protection of Breastfeeding also include plans to penalize those who advertise baby formula, she said.
Transnational companies that market formula, she said, have interfered with a crucial bond between mother and child.
"The most important is the love, the connection between mother and child, that sometimes is lost because they do not give them the warmth that nursing a baby provides," Monzon told VTV.
The proposal includes exceptions for mothers who cannot breast-feed due to illness, Monzon said. It would also provide for the creation of more breast-milk banks and require companies to set aside space for mothers to nurse.
She did not provide details about how authorities would enforce the measure if it passes, or what sorts of punishments violators would face.
The measure has drawn sharp criticism from some lawmakers, who argue that the government can promote breast-feeding without prohibiting anything, CNN affiliate Globovision reported.
"This is unacceptable and alarming," said Eduardo Marin, a lawmaker for the opposition Justice First party.
The 2007 law that Monzon is pushing to amend was aimed at promoting breast-feeding, Marin said, not "questioning, stigmatizing and practically criminalizing those who have opted for (other methods) of feeding."
Earlier this month, Venezuela's Health Ministry said that 27.1% of mothers in the country who are able to breast-feed actually do so and that officials aimed to increase that number to 70% by 2019, VTV reported.
CNN's Marysabel Huston-Crespo contributed to this report.