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house Bill H.R. 3694

Should TSA’s Screening Procedures for Pregnant Women Be Improved?

Argument in favor

Flying is already stressful enough for pregnant women. Going through TSA screening shouldn’t be yet another source of strain. Clearly communicating TSA’s policies and training its agents on them will help make air travel a little better for pregnant women and families.

S's Opinion
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09/30/2019
As someone who recently traveled for work while 7 months pregnant, and then shortly after as a breastfeeding/pumping mom, this bill sounds like a great way to make not only my life easier, but also that of everyone in line behind me. If I’m asking for alternate screening and dealing with all the stuff young kids and infants require it holds up the whole line. This would make everyone happier hopefully.
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Argument opposed

It’s already clear from the TSA website that women can choose to opt out of the body scanner if they choose. Moreover, TSA’s body scan machines are safe for pregnant women — so there’s no risk if they do go through the machine.

Jasen's Opinion
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09/27/2019
It’s already clear from the TSA website that women can choose to opt out of the body scanner if they choose. Moreover, TSA’s body scan machines are safe for pregnant women — so there’s no risk if they do go through the machine.
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What is House Bill H.R. 3694?

This bill — the Helping Families Fly Act of 2019 — would require TSA officials to implement trainings for frontline personnel to improve screening experience of pregnant women and young families. It would also require the implementation of a communication strategy to inform women and families of procedures included in guidelines through social media, the TSA website, customer service reps, as well as air carriers and operators. Further, this bill would require TSA to make passenger support specialists available, upon request, to women and families and to conduct a study on the feasibility of installing dedicated screening lanes for pregnant women and families. 

The training that this bill would require TSA to implement would cover: 

  • Inform workers of concerns and effects of using Advanced Imaging Technology on pregnant women.
  • Provide adequate opt-out options and alternate procedures.
  • Use of guidelines to assist pregnant women and families traveling with young children-- efficiently and with respect.
  • Communication guidelines to improve and ensure effective overall passenger experience at checkpoint screening.

Impact

Pregnant women traveling by plane; airports; TSA; and TSA screening procedures.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 3694

The CBO estimates that implementing this bill would cost less than $500,000.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) introduced this bill to improve the TSA screening experience for pregnant women and young families at airports

“For pregnant women and families with young children, traveling is already a stressful and time-consuming task. This bill aims to ease the burden on pregnant women and families while being screened at airports. By requiring improved training for TSA officers, better informing women and families of TSA procedures, and offering support specialists, we can make the airport experience for women and families quicker and easier.”

After this bill passed the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Lesko added that this legislation “will help make the airport experience for women and families quicker and easier while keeping our nation safe.”

Original cosponsor Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA) adds

“We all know how difficult it can be to get through security at our airports, especially for expecting mothers or families with young children. This legislation will help improve travelers experience, protect pregnant mothers while ensuring the men and women of the TSA can do their jobs and keep our nation safe.”

This legislation unanimously passed the House Homeland Security Committee with the support of 12 bipartisan cosponsors, including eight Republicans and four Democrats. 


Of NoteThe TSA says its body scanners have been thoroughly testing to ensure they’re safe for everyone, including pregnant women. However, for pregnant women who’d rather avoid the body scanner, there’s an option to ask for a pat down by a female TSA agent instead. These procedures have prompted complaints from pregnant women. 

Writing for Scary Mommy, blogger Alyssa Jensen recounts that “opting out” of the full body scanner isn’t as easy as TSA would have pregnant women believe. Recalling an incident in which a TSA employee was unhappy about her choice to opt out of the body scanner in favor of a pat down, she complained: 

“[W]ho would choose to have a full body pat down instead of just going through the machine? My thought is no one unless they had a really good reason. Let me just tell you, having someone all up in your business is not my idea of a good time… I find it totally unreasonable that it’s much easier to go through security with a baby (I’ve done it more times than I can count) then to go through while pregnant. When I fly with my son, I walk up, stroll through the metal detector (never a full body scanner) and go on with my day. What is the magical difference about the baby being outside instead of in?”


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Anna Bortnikova)

AKA

Helping Families Fly Act of 2019

Official Title

To require the Transportation Security Administration to implement training for frontline Administration personnel regarding the screening of pregnant women and families with young children at passenger screening checkpoints, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security
    IntroducedJuly 11th, 2019
    Stop wasting money!!!
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    The TSA should just be abolished instead.
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    Yes, TSAs do need to be aware of the concerns of pregnant women and the fears of young children in the screening process and how the TSA goals of assuring safety can be carried out in alternative ways, particularly for autistic children.
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    Some things are intuitively obvious, and this Bill is one of them. Support it.
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    This exception opens the door to abuse.
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    It’s already clear from the TSA website that women can choose to opt out of the body scanner if they choose. Moreover, TSA’s body scan machines are safe for pregnant women — so there’s no risk if they do go through the machine.
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    Doesn’t sound necessary.
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    As someone who recently traveled for work while 7 months pregnant, and then shortly after as a breastfeeding/pumping mom, this bill sounds like a great way to make not only my life easier, but also that of everyone in line behind me. If I’m asking for alternate screening and dealing with all the stuff young kids and infants require it holds up the whole line. This would make everyone happier hopefully.
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    Please do this!!
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