TSA agents required a 95-year-old woman in the final stages of Leukemia to remove her adult diaper in order to complete a security screening at the Northwest Florida Regional Airport last weekend, according to family members.
Jean Weber filed a complaint with the TSA after her mother endured the 45 minute ordeal prior to boarding a flight to Michigan to be with family members during the final days of her battle with cancer, according to a Panama City newspaper.
“It’s something I couldn’t imagine happening on American soil,” Weber told the News Herald Friday. “Here is my mother, 95 years old, 105 pounds, barely able to stand, and then this.”
Lena Reppert arrived at the checkpoint in a wheelchair. According to TSA protocol, passengers in wheelchairs trigger additional security screening, including a pat-down search, since wheelchairs cannot go through the X-ray machine.
“So they brought my mom to the side, and two agents just started patting her,” Weber told Fox News. “Eventually they found something that appeared to be hard and they said could be a concealed weapon.”
At that point, agents wheeled Reppert into a private room and found she was wearing the Depends undergarment. Her daughter sat outside the room.
“It was hard because the underwear was bunched up,” Weber said.
According to the New Herald story, agents came out and told Weber that they would need to remove the adult diaper because it was soiled and impeding the search. Weber took her mother to the bathroom and removed the Depend. She said they didn’t have another one to put on her.
“I ran with her to the bathroom and stripped her down,” Weber told Fox News. “I got back to the line and just started bawling.”
Reppert made her flight by just two minutes.
“It was tough to say goodbye after all of that,” Weber told Fox News. “But she’s at peace, and she’s a good Christian woman. They’ll be waiting for her up there in Heaven.
TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz told the newspaper she could not address specific cases, but noted that agents treat all passengers the same to ensure national security.
“TSA cannot exempt any group from screening because we know from intelligence that there are terrorists out there that would then exploit that vulnerability,” she said.
“Really?” Tenth Amendment Center communications director Mike Maharrey said. “This is what passes for national security in the United States of America? Forcing dying women to strip in order to board an airplane? I can think of no other word for this than obscene. “
A Texas bill that would make these invasive TSA pat-downs without probable cause illegal in the Lone Star State was blocked Friday when Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus refused to allow the bill to come to the floor, calling it a “publicity stunt.” The bill passed the House 138-0 during the regular session, but the Senate failed to take action on the legislation after a letter from U.S. Attorney John Murphy threatened to shut down air travel in Texas. Texas Gov. Rick Perry presented the HB 41 for consideration in a special session. With overwhelming public support and a majority of Representatives in the Texas House signed on as cosponsors, the bill looked to be on track to pass before Straus’ roadblock.
“A publicity stunt? Is he serious? I bet if that was his dying mother in that wheelchair, Straus would sing a different tune,” Maharrey said. “This is about protecting the rights of Texas citizens from the overreaching grope of the federal government. He has a duty as a state lawmaker to interpose for his citizens. He needs to get off his butt and do his job. Maybe if Texas leads the way, other states will follow suit and we can put an end to this kind of cruel, heartless, not to mention unconstitutional, procedure.”
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