Breastfeeding rooms in Illinois airports, including Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway International, will soon be the law. Governor Bruce Rauner tonight signed legislation requiring all large airports to add breastfeeding rooms by 2017, according to a report from My Fox Chicago. Smaller airports will not be required to add the breastfeeding rooms at this time, but will need to do so when building new terminals or renovating existing ones. Breastfeeding has been a hot topic of late as presidential-hopeful Donald Trump has been facing allegations that he berated a lawyer for wanting to pump breast milk, as previously reported by the Inquisitr.
The bill signing follows a Friday committee vote by the Chicago City Council on a similar proposal. Previously, Chicago aviation commissioner Ginger S. Evans indicated that O’Hare already plans to have three breastfeeding rooms installed by the end of the year, and that O’Hare and Midway each already have one breastfeeding room in place.
As Press of Atlantic City notes, this bill follows U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois’ sponsorship of the Friendly Airports for Mothers Act, a federal act which would require all major airports in the country to provide breastfeeding rooms, and this breastfeeding victory in her home state represents a strong step forward for Rep. Duckworth.
Two aldermen in Chicago have co-sponsored an ordinance that would require the new breastfeeding rooms to be ready even sooner, no later than January, 2016.
Midway opened its first breastfeeding room on Concourse C in September, and four similar breastfeeding rooms planned for O’Hare are already under construction, said Chicago Department of Aviation spokeswoman Karen Pride. The one-person room at Midway features a lockable door, a leather chair with an adjacent outlet, light music, and a flatscreen TV showing a slideshow of flowers.
A 2014 study published by Breastfeeding Medicine found that while 62 percent of American airports considered themselves “breastfeeding-friendly,” only 8 percent offer a space besides a bathroom with outlet, table, and chair for mothers to breastfeed in comfort and privacy; and no matter how clean and fancy the bathroom may or may not be, nobody wants to be relegated there for any reason — particularly not feeding a child, given questions of sanitation.
Alderman Ed Burke, who co-sponsored the January breastfeeding room ordinance, stated that the rule will make Chicago “the most breastfeeding-friendly city” in the country, and claimed that if all goes well with the airports, the city might try to expand the rule to other public spaces such as train stations, and that he would even consider requiring all large buildings in the city to have such a room available to breastfeeding mothers, much as public bathrooms are currently required by law in most locations.
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