Barack Obama signs bill requiring baby changing facilities in men’s bathrooms as well as women’s

The Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation Act, or BABIES Act, was passed by 389 votes to 34 in Congress 

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The Independent US

Barack Obama has signed a law requiring both male and female toilets in public buildings to be fitted with baby changing stations.

The US President signed the Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation Act, also known as the BABIES Act, on Friday after it was passed by 389 votes to 34 in Congress last week.

Under the bill, public (or federal) buildings must have at least one baby-changing facility on each floor. The legislation requires the changes to be implemented within two years, but makes some exceptions for situations in which it would be cost-prohibitive.

It reads: "This bill requires male and female restrooms in a public building to be equipped with baby changing facilities that the General Services Administration determines are physically safe, sanitary, and appropriate."

The signing has been welcomed by David Cicilline, the US Representative for Rhode Island, who initially introduced the bill in April.

He said in a statement: “Federal buildings are paid for by taxpayers and it's important to ensure that they are as open, as accessible, and as family-friendly as possible. With this new law now in effect, Social Security offices, Post Office buildings, and courthouses will be more accommodating for working moms and dads in Rhode Island and across the country.

"I thank President Obama for moving swiftly to sign this common sense proposal into law, and I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in Congress for coming together to get the job done. This is how government should work to make common sense reforms that make life easier for the people we serve."

The signing comes after celebrities and public figures expressed their support for baby changing facilities to be more widely available in male toilets. 

Actor Ashton Kutcher championed greater nappy changing facilities in men’s bathrooms last year and launched a campaign calling on major businesses to fit them.

New York State Senator Brad Hoylman also introduced a bill requiring “places of public accommodation" to include changing stations in men’s toilets as well as women’s.

He told the Huffington Post that his experience as a gay father had encouraged him to write the bill, adding the lack of changing facilities in men’s bathrooms is “an anachronism that reflects the bias toward women being the caregiver.”

Additional reporting by Associated Press