Nursing Mother's 'Awful' TSA Experience Sparks New Breastfeeding Bill for Traveling Parents

·3 min read
Emily Calandrelli
Emily Calandrelli

Emily Calandrelli/Twitter

After calling out TSA for the upsetting moment agents nearly confiscated her supplies for nursing, a mom of two has inspired a new bill to protect those traveling with breastfeeding equipment.

Emily Calandrelli, host of Netflix's Emily's Wonder Lab, went viral in May after sharing the story of the moment multiple male TSA agents told her she couldn't travel with ice packs needed to preserve her breast milk. In a lengthy Twitter thread, she noted that airport security questioned her need for breastfeeding equipment because she wasn't traveling with her child.

The mom explained to followers that agents went against existing TSA guidelines and after sharing the experience, she received hundreds of messages from other mothers with similar stories.

The guidelines say that breast milk is "allowed in reasonable quantities" and those traveling with it do not need to be accompanied by a child, though the items should be removed from its carry-on bag during security check for separate screening.

"It is infuriatingly common to encounter @TSA agents who don't know their OWN rules around bringing breast milk / formula pumping equipment on planes," Calandrelli wrote at the time. "Yesterday I was humiliated that I had to explain to 3 grown men that my breasts still produce milk when I'm not with my child."

"​​There's so much pressure to breastfeed, but @TSA makes it impossible," she continued. "The lack of training at @TSA is unfairly punishing and harming women."

Calandrelli later teamed up with California Rep. Katie Porter to co-write a new bill, the Bottles and Breastfeeding Equipment Screening Enhancement (BABES) Act, that would make it easier for parents and caregivers to travel with breast milk.

The BABES Act, which Porter introduced Tuesday, would require TSA to "clarify and regularly update guidance on handling breast milk, baby formula and other related nutrition products in consultation with leading maternal health groups" according to a press release.

RELATED: Shawn Johnson Says She Was 'Groped' by TSA Agent While Taking Breast Milk Through Security

Mother breastfeeding and holding newborn baby
Mother breastfeeding and holding newborn baby

Getty

RELATED: Breastfeeding May Help Improve Mothers' Brains Long-Term, Study Finds

"Earlier this summer, my constituent Emily called out @TSA for failing parents traveling with breast milk," Porter announced on Twitter. "We worked together to draft bipartisan, bicameral legislation to better protect parents like her who just want to keep their babies fed. I proudly introduced our bill today."

"New parents have enough to worry about, especially while traveling," Porter added in a statement. "TSA screening checkpoints should not pose a risk to Americans who just want to keep their babies healthy and fed. I'm proud to introduce this bipartisan bill that will make it easier for parents with young kids to travel safely."

"Working with Congresswoman Porter on this has turned a pretty awful experience into a positive one," Calandrelli said. "Every single parent who echoed my experience will now feel seen and supported because of this bill."

The BABES Act was first signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2016 and required TSA to notify airlines and airport security of TSA guidelines regarding allowing baby formula, breast milk, and juice on airplanes.