No One Should Have to Sacrifice Dignity to Travel
February 24, 2011
Rep. Chris Tuck said last weekend, the senior member of this body from District 22 chose respect. She stood up for her rights, her sense of decency, and her prior commitments to herself at the Seattle airport by not submitting to an intrusive search of her body.
“The stand Sharon took highlights the choice too many Americans have to face when traveling—maintaining their dignity or getting on the plane,” said Rep. Tuck. “I am proud of Sharon for taking her stand and of my colleagues in the House for emphasizing the fact that no one should have to sacrifice their dignity to travel.”
Air travel is an important part of Alaska’s economy and transportation system as many towns and villages do not have road access. Residents frequently fly to regional hubs for medical care or to purchase goods unavailable in their hometowns.
“For many Alaskans, air travel is the only option for getting to medical care, to see family or just to get home,” said Rep. Tuck. “TSA has to find a better way to keep our flights safe without treading on the rights of innocent people.”
Yesterday, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, sent a letter to Transportation Security Administration Administrator John Pistole requesting the TSA immediately clarify it’s screening policy for airline passengers with special medical conditions.
Murkowski sent the letter following an incident on Sunday at Seattle’s airport involving Alaska state Rep. Sharon Cissna, D-Anchorage, a breast cancer survivor who was singled out for an invasive pat-down search by TSA agents after they noticed scars from her mastectomy during a body scan.
“This kind of invasive probing should not be the price of travel,” Murkowski wrote in the letter. “I appreciate that the TSA has a difficult task in keeping air transportation safe…. However, this incident highlights specific privacy concerns that must be addressed. I am concerned there is an imbalance between safety requirements and overly invasive procedures targeting air travelers who have undergone mastectomy surgeries or use prosthetics.”
Rep. Cissna was prevented from boarding the flight to Juneau after she refused the pat down. She had to take a state ferry from Prince Rupert, British Columbia, to get back to Juneau.
“Air travel to Alaska should never require submission to a stranger’s intrusive touching of one’s sensitive body area,” Murkowski wrote.
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