Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ally's Law

(a.k.a. The Restroom Access Act)

On March 31st of this year, Michigan became the fourth state (after Illinois, Minnesota and Texas) to pass the Restroom Access Act -- sometimes also known as "Ally's Law" -- named after Ally Bain, who helped bring Crohns, Colitis and IBD into the national spotlight by sharing her story.

The following excerpt is reposted from CrohnsAndMe.com.

Ally Bain, a Crohn’s patient and teenager, experienced something that changed her life. While at a national retail clothing chain store with her mother, she suddenly had to use the restroom. They quickly ran to a manager to ask to use the employees-only restroom. But Ally was denied access and had an accident in the store. As she and her mother drove away, they vowed to never let that happen to anyone again.

With her family, friends, and State Rep. Kathleen Ryg, Ally worked to get a new law passed in Illinois. The law requires businesses to make employee-only restrooms available to people with inflammatory bowel disease and other medical conditions such as pregnancy and incontinence. The law states:

A retail establishment that has a toilet facility for its employees shall allow a customer to use that facility during normal business hours if the toilet facility is reasonably safe and all of the following conditions are met:

  1. The customer requesting the use of the employee toilet facility suffers from an eligible medical condition or utilizes an ostomy device.
  2. Three or more employees of the retail establishment are working at the time the customer requests use of the employee toilet facility.
  3. The retail establishment does not normally make a restroom available to the public.
  4. The employee toilet facility is not located in an area where providing access would create an obvious health or safety risk to the customer or an obvious security risk to the retail establishment.
  5. A public restroom is not immediately accessible to the customer.
Currently there are eight more states (that I'm aware of) which are working to pass this bill into law. Those states are, in no particular order, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Ohio.

If you live in one of these states, please write to your representatives and show your support for this important legislation. For an easy online form to help you help us (I've suffered with Colitis for over 20 years, so trust me, we do need this) please visit the following page. Don't live in a state with pending legislation? You can also help by writing to your representatives and suggesting that they sponsor the bill, or just become an advocate by going here. Thank you.

This law is a great first step, but like all first steps, there's always more that needs to be done. Bathroom access is an issue important to anyone with a disability, not just someone with a form of IBD. Once in place nation wide, I feel that Ally's Law needs to be extended to cover other disabilities... but more on that next week. Until then, please let's keep using our voices to create positive change. We can do it. If we won't, who will?


  1. Great blog Lawrence. Thank you for shedding light on these issues.

  2. Thanks Kelli! I have a personal interest in this one. LOL!