Tell TSA Authorities That Breast Cancer Survivors Must Be Treated With Dignity

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Sponsor: The Breast Cancer Site

Security screenings should not mean humiliating or invasive searches.


The Arizona Republic recently reported on an alarming increase in complaints about invasive searches by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) from passengers at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona. In June of 2012, an 82 year-old wheelchair-bound woman reportedly went through the security line at Sky Harbor and set off a metal detector. Though she explained to the attending TSA agent that she had survived a battle with breast cancer and, as a result, had a prosthesis, TSA agents reportedly brought her to a back room where she was ordered to remove her blouse, bra, and prosthesis for examination. Only after this degrading and unnecessarily invasive search was she allowed to board her flight.

Sadly, her story is only one example of several searches involving breast cancer survivors at Sky Harbor that have led to formal complaints. A total of eight complaints from breast cancer survivors with prostheses have been filed against TSA since 2011. Reportedly, one of the victims had her prosthesis pulled out of her blouse and searched in the middle of the terminal. When she protested the public nature of the search, the agent allegedly told her to "shut up." Passengers with disabilities are filing formal complaints about TSA procedures at a rate of more than two and a half times the national average.

Travelers deserve an explanation of the alleged wrongful actions of TSA personnel at Sky Harbor and a review TSA’s screening policies for passengers with disabilities is in order. Tell TSA admnistrator John S. Pistole that we must find a balance between ensuring the safety of all and maintaining dignity of individual passengers.

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The Petition:

To the Honorable John S. Pistole, Administrator, Transportation Security Administration:

I have heard about the disturbing increase in complaints regarding invasive searches by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) from passengers at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona.

In June of 2012, an 82 year-old wheelchair-bound woman reportedly went through the security line at Sky Harbor to board a flight to London and set off a metal detector. Though she explained to the attending TSA agent that she had survived a battle with breast cancer and, as a result, had a prosthesis, TSA agents reportedly brought her to a back room where she was ordered to remove her blouse, bra, and prosthesis for examination. Surely you would agree that no 82 year-old woman should ever have go through such a process in order to board an airplane?

Sadly, her story is only one example in a series of searches involving breast cancer survivors at Sky Harbor that have led to formal complaints. A total of eight complaints from breast cancer survivors with prostheses have been filed against TSA since 2011. Reportedly, one of the victims had her prosthesis pulled out of her blouse and searched in the middle of the public terminal. When she protested the public nature of the search, the agent apparently told her to "shut up." As you likely know, passengers with disabilities are filing formal complaints about TSA procedures at a rate of more than two and a half times the national average.

I ask that you and your staff explain the alleged wrongful actions of TSA personnel at Sky Harbor and review TSA's screening policies for passengers with disabilities to ensure that security protocols address probable threats, yet respect the dignity of travelers.

Sincerely,

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