TSA forces pregnant traveller into full-body scanner

Mary, a pregnant Consumerist reader, says that TSA screeners at O'Hare forced her to use a full-body scanner, refusing her repeated requests for a full-body pat-down.


  1. It`s sad that your only options these days are to subject yourself to a potentially harmful full-body scanner or to be groped by a total stranger.

  2. Gosh, no mention on the TSA blog: http://blog.tsa.gov/

    Milimeter wave scanners don’t use ionizing radiation, as I understand them, but they might have the ability to accelerate cancer progression. (Its been a while since I read up on these, so apologies in advance.)

    So, wouldn’t it be riskier for fetuses who are, in essence, a big ball of rapidly dividing cells?

  3. I won’t dispute the pregnant woman’s claims, but I went thru O’Hare on Wednesday and had no problem asking and receiving the pat down rather than going thru the body scanner. As a somewhat frequent flier, this just proves what I’ve been saying for a long time: The TSA is NOT consistent with its policies from airport to airport. That leads to confusion among travelers — and that’s sure to lead to controversies such as this.

    1. The inconsistency is obvious. Philly’s TSA, in my experience, are rude, but in an inefficient, don’t-make-me-get-up sort of way, whereas I felt the guy in Denver was going to have me shot for forgetting about the luggage key in my backpocket. Meanwhile the little old lady in Kansas City asked about my kids and practically offered me hard candy.

  4. So if she was worried about the radiation, why is she getting on a plane? The ionizing radiaition from a flight is the same order of magnitude as a chest x-ray. Not defending the TSA, but people never seem to think about flying while pregnant as a radiation risk. It is. Ask your flight attendant about it sometime.

  5. Can we send the TSA to Afghanistan for training? Preferably with nothing but a scanner wand and a huge ego to defend themselves.

  6. This one has bugged me for a while now, and I don’t really know the answer yet, but what is the proper way to protest this whole TSA mess?

    I mean, I kind of hope she does sue just to make a point of it, but other than being the one in line that constantly refuses the scanner, that’s really the tip of the iceberg regarding the stupidity that goes on in airports.

    How would one go about REALLY changing the mess and not just complaining about it on blogs. I’m not being snarky here…I’m genuinely trying to figure it out since it could probably apply to other situations.

    1. Very good question.

      Soap Box – Tried, lol blogs
      Ballot Box – Tried, lol hope
      Jury Box – Hmm.

      Sue them, maybe? And hope the govt doesn’t use “our very good evidence is a state secret” as a defense, like they’ve successfully done in the past? Cause you’re not gonna like the next box, though the TSA will appreciate having their petty tyranny justified by a few crazy loons shooting up the joint.

    2. The most obvious solution is to not fly to your destination. If a considerable number of people declined to fly and cited TSA as a specific reason (along with various methods of airline extortion) then the market would force a change. Problem is, principles are inconvenient.

    3. 1. Get national press.
      2. Remember the name of the agent who abused you.
      3. Fill out the forms.
      4. Fill out more forms.
      10. The TSA will promise to have the agent retrained.

  7. They came first for the flyers, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a flyer (anymore).

    Then they came for the rail passengers, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a rail passenger.

    Then they came for the bus riders, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a bus rider.

    Then they came for the car drivers, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a bus rider.

    Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.

  8. Consumerist is notorious for doing absolutely no fact checking on their stories. I would hold off judgment until you here this somewhere or see video of it.

  9. “Advanced Imaging Technology” is a euphemism created to make people think they are getting “scanned.” No one is getting “scanned” — they are getting strip searched.

    The fundamental privacy issue is whether our government has the right to make strip searches routine and mandatory.

    There is no question that these machines violate the 4th Amendment.

    There are also health issues. Researchers are already coming out saying that the machines aren’t safe and could cause cancer.

    Please check out the brochure at:

    and join us on Facebook
    All Facebook Against Airport Full Body Scanners

    and join in on Flyertalk.com
    Organized resistance to WBI/invasive patdowns


  10. This is why I always fly naked. This way, I don’t have to go through the full body scan.
    1. No full body scan needed.
    2. Everybody gets a show while they wait in line. Even people who don’t want it. (I’m a people person)
    3. I don’t have to take off my shoes.

  11. One one occasion I was going through the McCarran airport Las Vegas. I asked for a “pat down” because I did not want to remove my hoodie. I only had on a skimpy see through tank top underneath and did not want every one getting a peep show. The guy at the metal detector DEMANDED I remove my jacket and said there was no female available at the moment to pat me down…..funny how every other line had one! Still refusing he called for a cop! I felt so intimidated I did take of my hoodie only to hear, “Nice rack babe” being whispered by some creepy TSA guy. When I said, “What the hell did you just say?” they started asking me where I was going, why I was going there and ran a f***ing check on my ID! The cop already had pulled out his hand cuffs and told me, “Don’t be so mouthy young lady!” I was in tears! And still standing there without my jacket only to have LOTS more TSA workers to sorround me and get their “jollies”….and yeah the whole time they were asking me all these questions they would never look me in the eye and were asking my boobs! I even noticed a female screener glance at me and start to snicker! DID ANYONE EVER CONSIDER THESE FOOLS THAT WANT YOU TO HAVE THE “PORNO SCAN” HAVE ALREADY SEEN YOUR ID AND KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE! IS THE TSA READY TO PROVIDE WOMEN WITH SECURITY IN THEIR OWN HOMES AS WELL AS IN THE AIR! I REALLY DON’T WANT SOME CREEP TSA GUY SHOWING UP ON MY DOOR STEP CAUSE HE LIKED WHAT HE SAW UNDER MY CLOTHING! I did file a complaint more than once to NEVER get a response! Call the TSA to complain and all you get is routed to this or that dept. and NO answers. I even had a friend that got a pat down once by a TSA lady. She was “groping” her crotch and said in a loud voice, “Are you on your period and is that your Maxi pad”. Everyone waiting to be screened heard what she said! Of course she was humiliated to tears! Even a couple of folks, waiting to be screened, were red faced and voiced up and complained loudly in the line….men and ladies alike! IS THIS A FORM OF LEGAL RAPE????? I SUGGEST TSA WORKERS ALL HAVE TO WORK IN THE NUDE AND SEE WHAT HUMILIATION FEELS LIKE! BESIDES THEY ONLY HAVE TO HAVE 40 HOURS OF TRAINING (MOST OF THEM SLEEP DURING CLASS) AND VERY LITTLE OJT EXPERIENCE….MOST ARE LUCKY TO EVEN HAVE A FREAKING G.E.D.! I understand our need for safety but there has got to be a better way!

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