October 08, 2020

Sen. Tammy Duckworth Wants Lactation Rooms in Every U.S. Airport

Source: ELLE


Shortly after giving birth to her first daughter, Abigail, in 2015, Sen. Tammy Duckworth found herself in an airport bathroom stall pumping breast milk from a toilet seat. There were no other private options in the terminal.

Duckworth knew she wasn't alone in wanting a sanitary space to breastfeed or pump while traveling. At the time, she discovered that while 62 percent of airports in the U.S. called themselves “breastfeeding-friendly,” only 8 percent had private, clean nursing areas with a chair, a table, and an electrical outlet.

"As a Congresswoman with a young baby, I was going back and forth between D.C. and Illinois," Duckworth tells ELLE.com. "I was often stuck expressing breastmilk in toilet stalls."

Three years later, her Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) Act was signed into law. It required medium and large airports in the U.S. to have private spaces in every terminal for mothers to express breastmilk.

Duckworth is now expanding that act to include more airports so that "no traveling mothers will be left behind," she says. The FAM Improvement Act ensures even small airports support nursing moms by providing convenient lactation rooms for travelers.

“Because of our hub and spoke system, travelers often either start their trip at a small airport or pass through one as they connect to a larger airport," Duckworth says. "When this legislation goes into effect, it will help our economy recover by making travel more family friendly.”

The FAM Improvement Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is now headed to the president's desk for his signature. It has been endorsed by over 85 organizations, including the U.S. Breastfeeding Coalition, American Academy of Pediatrics, and Association of Women's Health.

"It should be implemented in the coming years,” Duckworth says.

The senator has long been a champion of new mothers. In 2019, she introduced a separate breastfeeding bill ensuring all federal buildings open to the public provide lactation spaces for visitors. Earlier this year she introduced the Newborn CARES Act to help new parents receive the additional $500 per child in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act stimulus payments without having to wait until 2021.

By:  Rose Minutaglio