Senator Marco Rubio (R – FL) has penned an op-ed in The Hill condemning flight attendants who wish to ban lap infants, calling into question their values and motives.
Rubio: Misguided Push To Ban Lap Infants On Airplanes “Signals A Lot About Our Underlying Values”
Rubio notes that the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA is lobbying lawmakers to ban lap infants and require every passenger–including babies–to be in their own seat. He then argues that parents who are concerned about the safety of their children can already purchase a seat for an infant:
“Lobbyists claim such a ban would increase safety. They cite rare cases of turbulence that could cause a parent to lose hold of his or her child and point to two airplane crashes, one in 1989 and another in 1994, which resulted in the deaths of infants. Any child’s death is a tragedy, but there is no evidence that prohibiting lap-babies would decrease the number of such deaths in America. What’s more, parents can already purchase seats for their infants if they want. At best, the only thing this special interest handout would do is inconvenience millions of families.”
Rubio then points out, as I have on many occasions, that by forcing families to purchase extra seat(s) for infants, many may choose to drive instead, which places these infants at even greater statistical risk of harm, injury, or death.
‘In fact, enacting a ban could increase America’s annual infant death rate. One study that considered the implications of “a seat for every soul” found requiring child-restraint systems on airplanes “might cause an increase in motor vehicle deaths if many families switched to travel by car rather than paying additional fares for their young children.” Ben Hoffman, the president-elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics, echoes those concerns. “If [families] travel by car instead [of by plane], they will actually be putting themselves at a significantly greater risk, because car crashes are so much more common than airplane incidents,” Hoffman explains.”
The other problem, as I see it, is that babies simply will not stay in their own seats. They want to sit with mom or dad and any parent will not remain quietly in a seat by themselves.
But the heart of Rubio’s argument is that our policy on infant lap children says much more about our values:
There is another problem here, though, one that goes beyond statistics. The way we structure airline seating may seem unimportant, but it actually signals a lot about our underlying values…[T]here’s a reason we defer to parents with strollers in the boarding process. From one perspective, these decisions don’t matter all that much. But from another perspective, they’re crucial. These gestures serve as a daily reminder of what we value and the kind of society we want to be.
Our culture is constantly sending other signals that children are a burden—that the good life ends when you become a parent. Whether carried by the hysterical rhetoric of the pro-abortion lobby or ads that subtly promote hyper-individualism, such signals have a corrosive effect on our nation. According to a recent Wall Street Journal poll, only 23 percent of Americans under 30 believe having children is very important. That is a near-death sentence for our society, which is built on the institution of the family and relies on children for its future existence and strength.
In response, we should be doing everything in our power to promote parenting and support child-rearing. In other words, we should be breaking down obstacles for families, not erecting barriers to make things even harder. Forcing already-struggling families to pay an extra $500 or $1,000 to board a plane, on the contrary, would reinforce the message that children are a burden and an unwelcome nuisance in the public square.
I’m not sure even Sara Nelson (the union president) is out to undermine children. I do think the efforts of her union to ban lap infants is wholly misguided, but I’m not convinced that the point of this effort is rooted in the idea that “children are a burden and an unwelcome nuisance in the public square.”
Senator Rubio has penned an op-ed attacking the idea of banning lap infants on airplanes and suggesting those who wish to do so are anti-family. Does his argument resonate with you or is it just one step too far in the culture war?
image: @senatormarcorubio / Instagram