Breastfeeding in Airports: Friendly Airports for Mothers Act

Stephanie Struyck Elgin
Author | Shield HealthCare
02/21/18  12:20 PM PST
breastfeeding airports friendly airports mothers act

Breastfeeding mothers generally need to express milk every few hours. Add travel to the busy agenda, and suddenly finding a place to breastfeed becomes a little more difficult. According to a 2014 study published in the Breastfeeding Medicine journal, out of 100 airports, 62% reported being “breastfeeding friendly” but only 8% of the airports met the minimum requirements for a breastfeeding mother. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA) introduced the Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) Act of 2017, a bill that would require commercial airports to provide private lactation rooms for breastfeeding mothers in each terminal.

Friendly Airports for Mothers Act

The bipartisan Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) Act would require all large and medium hub airports to provide a private, non-bathroom space in each terminal for mothers to express breast milk. The space must be accessible to persons with disabilities, available in each terminal building after the security checkpoint, and include a place to sit, a table or other flat surface, and an electrical outlet. Airports would have two years to comply and would be able to use Airport Improvement Program funds for the purpose of complying with the new requirement.

In May, Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA) was joined by six original cosponsors on the House bill and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (IL) introduced the Senate version with two original cosponsors. The FAM Act has continued to gain support in both Houses of Congress with 12 cosponsors in the House and 13 cosponsors in the Senate.

The provisions of the FAM Act were also included in the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2017, which would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and specified FAA programs through FY2021 and revise requirements for the airport improvement program. Unfortunately, Congress was unsuccessful in reaching a full reauthorization of the agency. Since FAA authorization was set to expire on September 30, Congress passed a short term extension through March 28, 2018, to keep the agency operating while a long term solution is considered. The FAM Act’s inclusion in the FAA has been met without opposition.

Fairness for Breastfeeding Mothers Act

The Fairness for Breastfeeding Mothers Act would require that certain public buildings that have a public restroom provide a lactation room, other than a bathroom, that is hygienic and is available for use by a member of the public. A covered public building may be excluded from the requirement if the building does not contain a lactation room for employees who work in the building and does not have a room that could be repurposed as a lactation space at a reasonable cost; or if new construction would be required and the cost is unfeasible. The bill was introduced in the House with bipartisan support by Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), who was joined by two original cosponsors, with another cosponsor joining later in the month. The bill passed on the House floor by voice vote in March, becoming the second ever breastfeeding-specific bill to pass the floor of either house of Congress as a standalone measure. The Senate companion bill was introduced in June by Sen. Steve Daines (MT) with one original cosponsor. Since then, the Senate bill has gained one additional cosponsor.

Source: United States Breastfeeding Committee

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