News that a ticket agent forced a mother off a Freedom Air flight run by Delta Airlines for breastfeeding on-board infuriated the MomsRising community last week, generating more than 19,000 signatures on a petition to Delta Airlines since last Friday. Launched earlier this year as an online grassroots organization that supports motherhood and family issues, MomsRising quickly mobilized its members through an email alerting them to the incident and asking them to sign the petition and contact the airlines.
The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that the woman in question, Emily Gillette of Santa Fe, New Mexico, has filed a complaint with the Vermont Human Rights Commission against Delta Air Lines and Freedom Airlines.
Emails and calls from MomsRising members pushed both Delta and Freedom Airlines to issue statements underscoring their commitment to allowing women to breastfeed onboard planes. Freedom Air also noted that the incident would serve as a training opportunity for all employees.
“It’s unbelievable that a mother who is trying to do the best thing for her baby would be punished for it by an airline, of all things,” said MomsRising Executive Director Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner. “We’ve shared our concerns with both airlines and we are pleased that Delta and Freedom Air have responded quickly to our concerns and that they will work to ensure that their policies are understood and adhered to by all employees.”
Citing the American Association of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MomsRising’s email noted that breastfeeding is widely considered the best source of nutrition for babies up to six months and has health benefits for both mother and baby. The organization also encouraged members to contact their Members of Congress and urge them to support the Breastfeeding Promotion Act, introduced by Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) last year.
“I commend the women who are out at airports all over the country today to help make sure that women can breastfeed if they choose to,” said Maloney. “This incident again shows that we need to do more to support women who choose to breastfeed in this country – which is exactly what my legislation, the Breastfeeding Promotion Act, would do.”
MomsRising is building a massive grassroots online resource to put motherhood and family issues on the nation’s radar screen, and to provide grassroots political capital to advance leaders and policies that support families. More information is available at www.momsrising.org