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Pregnant Journalist Strip Searched And X-Rayed Three Times

Like most pregnant women Lynsey Addario was cautious and conscientious. After all, this was her first pregnancy. She called the border officials in advance to make certain that she would not have to walk through an X-ray machine when she entered a country that has been besieged by war for more than 60 years. Unfortunately, Addario was wrong. Dead wrong. She was scanned, not once. Not twice. But THREE times and then made to strip down to her underwear. The soldiers laughed each time she complained. What was so funny? Her 28-week pregnant belly? Or perhaps her vulnerability.

As an American photojournalist with a Pulitzer Prize under her belt, Addario is not immune to danger. She had first-hand experience while on an assignment for The New York Times in March of 2011. At that time, she along with four other journalists went missing for four days in Libya.  They were ultimately released but not before Addario was allegedly groped and humiliated by Libyan soldiers. In May 2009 she broke her collar bone in a motor vehicle accident in Pakistan where another passenger was injured and the driver was killed.

The scanning of pregnant Addario evoked an international apology from the country at fault after it received a letter of complaint from The New York Times. There are those who feel the country was justified to radiate and strip search Addario because of its constant assault from suicidal terrorists.  There are those who will even cite examples of pregnant women who have carried bombs in places like Ireland and the Middle East. There are those who will place fault squarely on Addario, stating that as a pregnant woman, she has no right to work in a war zone that places both she and her unborn baby in harm’s way. All of these points are quite debatable. Addario’s work focuses on conflicts and human rights issues for which she earned a Mac Arthur genius award of $500,000. My focus is on pregnant women and unborn babies.  In November of 2010, I published a blog post on the potential ill-effects of airport body scans and pregnant women. Addario wasn’t carrying explosives. She was carrying a baby.  An apology was definitely in order.

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway*

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