A woman traveling home from an abortion rights seminar was detained and forced off an American Airlines flight Tuesday because the captain and crew found her T-shirt “offensive,” according to the blog RH Reality Check. The woman, who asked not to be named, was wearing a T-shirt with a slogan made famous by Oklahoma state senator Judy McIntyre (D), who marched earlier this year to protest Oklahoma’s “fetal personhood” law, carrying a sign that read, “If I wanted the government in my womb, I’d fuck a senator.”
The woman, who detailed her experience in an email to RHRC blogger Jodi Jacobson, said she was sleeping for most of her first flight with a shawl covering her shirt. “Right before we were set to land the flight attendant from first class approaches me and asks if I had a connecting flight? We were running a bit behind schedule, so I figured I was being asked this to be sure I would make my connecting flight. She then proceeded to tell me that I needed to speak with the captain before disembarking the plane and that the shirt I was wearing was offensive.”
Upon deplaning, the woman, who Jacobson calls “O.”, was taken aside by the captain and ordered to change her shirt, a delay that caused her to miss her connecting flight. “I assumed that because I was held up by the captain, they would have called ahead to let the connecting flight know I was in route. Well, upon my hastened arrival at the gate of the connecting flight, it was discovered that they did indeed call ahead but not to hold the flight, only to tell them I needed to change my shirt. I was given a seat on the next flight and told to change shirts.”
All of her clothing was stored in her checked bags, which had just left on her scheduled flight. Rather than being forced to buy some kind of blouse or top in the airport concourse, O. consulted a friend “with a law background” who told her that technically the shirt only had to be covered.
O. pulled her shawl over the T-shirt’s slogan and attempted to board the flight to which she’d been bumped, only to have her ticket rejected as invalid. Finally, after several more minutes of wrangling with an airline employee, she was cleared to board. She wrote, “I did finally arrive home to pick up my daughter an hour and a half later than scheduled.”
Jacobson has started a petition at Change.org asking American Airlines to apologize to O. for kicking her off her flight. She writes, “In a country based on freedom of expression and in which anti-choice, anti-woman, anti-gay protestors and harassers have free reign for their campaigns to control women, we can not allow even one woman to be silenced because her pro-choice t-shirt ‘offends’ American Airlines’ staff.”
(Screen grab of OK state senator Judy McIntyre via NewsOK video)