Tammy Duckworth becomes first senator to give birth in office

Democrat gave birth to her second daughter on Monday. She is also one of only 10 lawmakers to give birth while serving in Congress

Washington: Tammy Duckworth of Illinois has become the first US senator to give birth in office. The Democrat announced that she had given birth to her second daughter, Maile Pearl Bowlsbey, on Monday. Her office said the senator and her family were doing well.

The family “couldn’t be happier to welcome little Maile Pearl as the newest addition to our family”, said Duckworth, 49, who is a veteran of the Iraq war.

After sharing the news she was pregnant, Duckworth prompted a conversation about the way women balance high-powered careers and motherhood. Some welcomed her pregnancy as a sign of progress for female politicians. Others saw it as a reminder of the slow pace of change — and of the gender gap that persists in Congress.

“I feel like the Senate is actually in the 19th century as opposed to the 21st somehow and that’s really unfortunate,” Duckworth told the Guardian in an interview last month.

Asked how she felt about being the first woman to give birth while serving in the Senate, she told the Chicago Tribune: “Well, it’s about damn time. I can’t believe it took until 2018. It says something about the inequality of representation that exists in our country.”

In her statement on Monday, Duckworth said: “We’re deeply honoured that our good friend Senator Akaka was able to bless her name for us — his help in naming both of our daughters means he will always be with us.”

Daniel Akaka was the first native Hawaiian to represent the state in the Senate. He died on Friday, aged 93.

Duckworth said her new baby’s name had a link to her husband Bryan Bowlsbey’s family. “Pearl Bowlsbey Johnson was Bryan’s great aunt, an army officer and a nurse who served during the second world war. He spent many summer months with her while growing up. We feel her presence still and are grateful for her service to our nation during the most challenging of times.”

She went on: “We’re also so grateful for the love and support of our friends and family, as well as our wonderful medical teams for everything they’ve done to help us in our decades-long journey to complete our family.”

The senator has spent a career in public service. Among the first women to fly combat missions in Iraq, she lost both legs when her helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in 2004. In 2012, she became the first disabled woman elected to Congress, the first member of Congress born in Thailand and the first Asian American woman elected to Congress in Illinois.

She had her first daughter, Abigail, in 2014, while serving in the House. That made her one of only 10 lawmakers to give birth while serving in Congress.


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