'Silence' Producer's Joke at Airport Security Leads to Vagina Patdown

"The scene was gnarly" for several minutes, says Martin Scorsese's longtime producer Emma Tillinger Koskoff, whose reference to her IUD was mistaken by TSA employees as "IED," leading to an additional security check to examine her neck, wrist and — yep — groin.

Martin Scorsese's longtime producer Emma Tillinger Koskoff received a present over the holidays that she wasn't expecting ­— a vagina pat-down.

Running late for an American Airlines flight from New York to Los Angeles in December, the Silence producer was wearing one of her favorite accessories, a Cartier Love bracelet, which is time-intensive to remove and put back on. After Koskoff had gone through the scanner, a TSA employee asked her to submit to an additional security check to examine what she said would be Koskoff's neck, wrist and groin.

As they waited for a supervisor to come do the check, Koskoff joked that the scanner probably had picked up her IUD — a birth control method known as an intrauterine device. The staffer's face went pale.

"She suddenly wouldn't even look at me and then she said something into her walkie-talkie," Koskoff recalls. "The supervisor comes over and calls for the head of security because they thought I was talking about an IED." That device is one used by terrorists, known by its full title as an improvised explosive device. "The scene was gnarly for a minute," Koskoff continues, before adding that the misunderstanding got cleared up over several minutes.

"The woman, who was in her mid-30s, didn't know what an IUD was, which is fine. She did the pat-down and it was not even an issue. I'm all for making sure that no one has bombs on themselves and people being patted down for security purposes," explains Koskoff. In the end all was well, says Koskoff: "I ran to my plane and made it."

While it may be surprising that the female security guard had never heard of an IUD, such situations may soon be a thing of the past, even if the vagina pat-downs persist. Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards told CNN International's Christiane Amanpour that her organization has seen a surge in popularity of the devices. "We've had a 900 percent increase in women trying to get into Planned Parenthood to get an IUD because they are desperately concerned that they might lose their access to health care, and they know that Planned Parenthood is the place that can provide it," Richards said on the program, reports The Cut.

A version of this story first appeared in the Jan. 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.