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Darren Soto amendments make flying friendlier to new moms and pregnant women

Two amendments pushed by Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto got included in a bill approved Friday morning by the U.S. House of Representatives and could make airports and airplanes a little more prepared for new mothers and pregnant women.

House Resolution 4, the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2018, includes Soto’s amendments that requires that commercial airports’ lactation rooms for new mothers and infants include sanitation equipment, not just a chair and a table. The bill also seeks to have airplane on-board medical kits include supplies to handle in-flight births and medical emergencies involving pregnant women.

Both amendments were attached to the FAA bill by unanimous voice vote.

“We must always be conscious of the additional barriers and sensitivities new mothers and pregnant women face in their day-to-day lives,” Soto stated in a news release issued by his office Friday. “As we consider the millions of people who travel through the Orlando area airports each year, I remain committed to helping all passengers, including new mothers. My amendments will specifically have long-lasting health, sanitation, and convenience benefits for traveling mothers. I’m pleased to see this legislation passed with broad support. Helping our families and new mothers is one of my top legislative priorities, whether at the airport, at home or in the workplace.”

H.R. 4 authorizes the Federal Aviation Administration to operate for the next six years, starting at $4.35 billion per year..

The first Soto-introduced amendment requires proposed lactation rooms at commercial airports to support mothers who are breastfeeding to have have sanitation equipment, at minimum a sink. Previously, the bill only included a chair, table, and electrical outlet.

His second amendment would require the FAA to consider the potential emergency medical needs of pregnant women when evaluating the minimum contents of approved on-board medical kits. Previously, the bill had only specified the consideration of children’s medical needs. Obstetrical symptoms, while rare causes of in-flight medical emergencies, should be given this consideration to prepared in such situations.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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