Australian cat sitter Madolline Gourley reveals why she was questioned at US airport about abortion
An Australian woman who traveled to the United States before being detained and was asked by authorities if she had recently had an abortion claimed that an Australian airport was responsible for the ordeal.
Madolline Gourley, of Brisbane, stopped in Los Angeles on June 30 on her way to Canada, where she planned to babysit cats in exchange for free accommodation.
While at the airport, she was approached by US border officials and taken to a detention room where she was beaten, fingerprinted, photographed and questioned — including whether she was pregnant.
Ms Gourley allegedly violated her visa requirements and was sent home on the next flight to Brisbane.
She now blames an error at Brisbane Airport for her detention and says staff sent her on her way despite not being able to print all of her boarding passes.
Madolline Gourley (pictured), from Brisbane, stopped in Los Angeles on June 30 on her way to Canada for a vacation, where she planned to babysit cats in exchange for free accommodation.
She claimed last week before she was detained and eventually deported back to Australia, US immigration officials knocked her down and questioned her, asking if she was pregnant or had recently had an abortion.
Her ticket from Brisbane to LA was able to be printed, but she was told her passes for her next two flights could not.
“It sounded like it was a known issue. It didn’t sound like it was specific to my situation,” she said news.com.au.
Ms Gourley said staff eventually decided it wouldn’t be a problem not to have boarding passes for all three flights.
She then boarded her plane with only her baggage check as proof for her connecting flights to Philadelphia and Montreal.
Ms Gourley said she thinks she could have stayed in the US if she had all three tickets.
She said the LA immigration officer was convinced she was up to no good because she didn’t have physical copies of her boarding passes.
“I did the right things, but he just didn’t feel like it,” she said.
Her ordeal at the US airport made headlines when it followed the US Supreme Court’s quashing of Roe v Wade, allowing states to ban abortions.
At the time, she claimed that an officer at LA Airport had asked her more than once if she had terminated a pregnancy.
“I don’t know if she forgot, if she wanted to find out if I was lying or something. I said no, and she looked back at me and said, “Have you had an abortion recently?” she told The Guardian.
“I don’t know the thought process behind that… I just thought, “What’s the relevance of that to my situation?”
She now says the whole ordeal happened because Brisbane Airport was unable to print her boarding passes for two of her three flights, leaving her on her way with only her luggage ticket as proof
Ms Gourley was told she had been denied entry for violating the terms of the Visa Waiver Program, which allows Australians and citizens of many other countries to travel to the US for short-term travel without obtaining a visa.
Since returning home to Australia, Ms Gourley was contacted by a US Border Protection officer who was investigating her treatment at the airport, but she said that was not helping the situation.
“They asked me why I didn’t raise the inappropriate questioning with the supervisors and why I didn’t ask for a manager to intervene,” she said.
Despite the turn of events, Ms Gourley says she still wants to go back abroad but is having trouble getting help.
The website she’s been using to take care of cats around the world for over five years, Trusted Housesitters, has also said they couldn’t help her and it was up to immigration officials to make decisions about where she could travel.
Now Ms Gourley’s only option left to overturn her refusal of entry into the US is to file a freedom of information request.