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All large- and medium-size airports will soon be officially required to provide a private space for breastfeeding.
On Oct. 5, President Trump signed the five-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration Act, which for the first time included a requirement for airports to provide lactation rooms that are accessible to the public. The requirement had been introduced by Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.
As of Oct. 1, 2020, every large- and medium-size airport will be required to provide a clean and private space in each terminal after the security checkpoint for all lactation-related activities, including feeding or pumping. A bathroom stall doesn’t count — this must be nonbathroom space. The space also has to be accessible to people with disabilities and include a place to sit, a table, or other flat surface, and an electrical outlet. If an airport doesn’t have the space or means to create the space for this activity, the bill also makes grants available to make renovations.
This is a huge win for mothers everywhere, and it’s something they’ve been waiting for. However, many of them probably never thought the long-overdue change would be made under the Trump administration, especially because in July the New York Times reported that the administration opposed a resolution that encouraged breastfeeding by removing language that called on governments to “protect, promote and support breast-feeding.” The paper also reported that global health experts believe that the president lacks knowledge about lactation. In a Trump immigration crackdown, a nursing mother was detained and separated from her 11-month-old baby in an airport for hours. Also, Trump has called a nursing mom “disgusting.”
— Abigail Rasminsky (@AbbyRasminsky) February 1, 2017
Regardless of who signed the act, it’s still progress.
“This is a strong step forward toward a world where breastfeeding families across our country are seamlessly supported wherever they are — at their places of work, in their communities, in an airport, anywhere,” says Mona Liza Hamlin, chair of the United States Breastfeeding Committee. “No one likes flight delays, but for people who are lactating, extra time in the airport can mean finding a place to express milk or risking a dwindling milk supply or even infection. We look forward to building on this momentum and continuing to support breastfeeding people and families in all places and spaces.”
She adds, “Breastfeeding in public is protected in all 50 states and families are encouraged to nurse wherever and whenever they are comfortable. These lactation accommodation provisions ensure that those who need or prefer a private space have access to one.”
The act also requires airports to provide a baby-changing table in one men’s and one women’s restroom in each passenger terminal building.
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