#13 for the Restroom Access Act!
Today, Massachusetts became the 13th state to sign the Restroom Access Act into law. Big victory for IBD-ers.
“This bill will provide peace of mind to people suffering from IBD, who will be able to shop without fear of a publicly embarrassing situation,” said Rep. Louis Kafka (D-Stoughton).Kafka sponsored the bill in the House and led an eight-year effort to get it enacted. He introduced the legislation at the request of a constituent, Canton attorney Jonathan Rutley, who drafted the measure for his 17-year-old daughter and ulcerative colitis patient, Catherine (Catie).
For those who are not familiar with it, the Restroom Access Act (also known as Ally’s Law) requires retail establishments that do not have a public restroom to allow people with IBD, IBS, other chronic conditions, and pregnant women access to employee restrooms. As you all know, this is very important for IBD-ers. The last thing you need is to be out somewhere that has no public restroom and be denied access and have an accident.
The law originated through action by a Crohn’s patient named Ally who was shopping with her mom, was denied access to the employee restroom, and ended up having a mortifying accident in the store.
In addition to this law, IBD patients can also order a snazzy Medical Alert Restroom Access Pass through www.myibd.org. The pass reads
The holder of this card has Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Colitis is painful and requires immediate access to a toilet facility. This patient cannot physically “hold it.” Please make your restroom available.
My husband has one of these cards- they had them at the Take Steps Be Heard walk we did in 2010. Luckily he hasn’t needed to use it but they are definitely a smart thing to have if you have Crohn’s, UC, or even IBS.
Back to the original point- now 13 states have signed the Restroom Access Act into law: Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and Washington. I’m proud that my state is among the list!
Is your state on this list? If not- contact your state or federal legislators and urge them to act on it! This is such a simple idea, it’s hard to believe that every state doesn’t have it. If you need help figuring out who to contact, let me know! I’m happy to help you track it down, draft a letter to legislators, or just talk.