WASHINGTON, D.C. (WCIA) — New federal legislation could make it easier for parents to safely travel with breast milk.
Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth introduced on Tuesday the Bottles and Breastfeeding Equipment Screening (BABES) Enhancement Act. If passed and signed into law, it would require the TSA to:
- Issue guidance on the hygienic handling of any breast milk, baby formula and related nutrition products, as well as accessories required to preserve these products
- Consult with nationally recognized maternal groups in establishing and communicating this guidance
- Update its guidance every five years to respond to the emergence needs of parents and to account for technological developments
“Too often, I hear stories of new moms being mistreated and denied access to their breast milk and the breastfeeding equipment that they need to pump and feed their babies,” Duckworth said. “To make things worse, many of these incidents with TSA employees are flat-out inconsistent with the screening policies that TSA already has in place and it has to stop. That’s why I’m proud to introduce this legislation alongside Congresswoman Porter to make sure that TSA does all it can to keep its employees up to speed on their own policies and update these policies accordingly. It’s the least we can do to better ensure all new parents are provided with the respect and dignity they deserve while traveling.”
Duckworth introduced her legislation in the Senate with co-sponsors Maize Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Steve Daines (R-Montana). Representative Katie Porter (D-California) introduced an identical piece of legislation in the House of Representatives; Porter’s piece of legislation was co-sponsored by Representatives Maria Salazar (R-Florida) and Eric Swalwell (D-California).
Duckworth’s office said the legislation was introduced a few months after Emily Calandrelli, host of Emily’s Wonder Lab on Netflix and a constituent of Porter’s, was delayed at Los Angeles International Airport while carrying supplies she needed to safely pump milk for her 10-week-old son. She was ultimately forced to check her items despite existing TSA guidelines that permitted her to carry the supplies onto the plane.
Duckworth’s office added the legislation is meant to keep children and their parents safe. Mishandled breastmilk can become contaminated, putting children at risk, and parents who lactate typically need to breastfeed or pump once every few hours. Failure to do so can result in a painful infection.
A copy of the bill can be found online.