Breastfeeding moms will no longer have to pump in the bathroom.
Nursing mothers traveling through Chicago’s major air travel hubs, O’Hare and Midway, won some well-deserved accommodations over the weekend. The Associated Press reports that Chicago governor Bruce Rauner signed a law on Sunday that requires the state’s largest airports to provide a lactation room in each terminal by 2017.
Under the new law, any airport with more than a million enplanements a year has to provide a room with “at a minimum, a chair and an electrical outlet” in each terminal behind airport security screening. The lactation room must be private and cannot be lumped inside a public restroom. Smaller airports will only have to add the rooms if they build new terminals or substantially renovate an existing one.
O’Hare and Midway each have one lactation room available now, but the AP report notes that Chicago’s aviation commissioner had already pledged to add three new lactation rooms at O’Hare by the end of this year. The Chicago City Council is also considering an ordinance similar to the new statewide law, hoping to lead the way for the rest of the country, where air travel is indeed especially difficult for nursing mothers: a study released last fall found that only 8 percent of American airports surveyed offer specific rooms for breastfeeding and pumping.
But there’s hope that nursing air travelers might soon have the privacy and space they need across the country. U.S. Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth—who represents a Chicago district—has introduced legislation in the House of Representatives that would require all large and medium airports in the country to provide lactation rooms within two years of the legislation’s passage. “Moms shouldn’t have to worry about finding a place to breastfeed while they’re traveling,” Duckworth says in a release. “They already have enough to worry about.”
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