Important Menstrual Policy
Good policy improves the wellbeing of individuals and communities. We feel compelled to encourage positive policy, where lacking. Here is what we’d love to see happen for women’s health.
- Require the IRS to reclassify menstrual health products as ‘medically necessary,’ so they will be eligible for coverage with flexible spending account dollars, health savings accounts, etc., as other ‘medically necessary’ items are.
- Conduct a nationwide study to examine the way menstruation, and access to menstrual products, affects women, girls and people who menstruate.
- No such study has been conducted, making research-based solutions difficult.
- Study should include information specifically related to students, women and girls who are homeless and in prison as well as women and girls at all income levels.
- Enable program participants to use existing food stamps, Medicaid, and WIC vouchers for menstrual products; which is not currently allowed.
- This would not increase the allotted food stamps or other benefits.
- Require that the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) include menstrual health management in the regulations governing workplace restrooms.
- Require menstrual health products be provided in public restrooms in the same way that soap, toilet paper, and paper towels are provided.
- Require states to exempt tampons, pads and other menstrual products from sales tax (aka end the ‘tampon tax’).
- Require schools to provide tampons and pads for students.
- Encourage state-owned buildings to provide tampons and pads in restrooms.
See the status of the ‘tampon tax’ in your state.
The facts about Menstrual Health in America
Menstrual Health Policy Background
Menstrual Health (MH), also called Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) is the “catch phrase” term for the ways in which women and girls manage their period—via pads, tampons, menstrual cups, IUDs, etc.
Noting that half of all constituents (females) have periods, women and men are attempting to de- stigmatize menstruation and recognize this physical trait of females in official policies.
There is a recent wave of support for menstruation policy in the U.S.
- The year 2015 was dubbed ‘Year of the Period,’ in the media.
- In response to the “Year of the Period,” dozens of articles were written in prominent newspapers (New York Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic, etc.), activist groups became involved in lobbying and changing public perception, and policy books (like Periods Gone Public by Jennifer Weiss- Wolf) were written. In 2019, the Oscar for best short documentary went to “Period. End of Sentence.,” a film about menstruation.
- Several different petitions surrounding MH policy have garnered hundreds of thousands of signatures each.
- The motivating factor in the media and in public action has been the realization that menstruation is NOT considered a “medical necessity” (terms vary per agency) in many government agencies, including the IRS, Health and Human Services, OSHA, Medicaid, WIC.
- Because menstruation is not considered a “medical necessity,” a person with a Health Savings Account (HSA) CANNOT purchase tampons or pads with their HSA, (although they can buy Viagra or Rogaine or BandAids with their card). It similarly affects people on Medicaid or using WIC.
- Menstrual hygiene supplies are also INELIGIBLE for purchase using federal grant money that is already earmarked for medical or necessary supplies in homeless shelters and schools. So, a homeless shelter can use grant money to purchase blankets and BandAids, but NOT tampons or pads.
- The Salt Lake Tribune: How small acts become sweeping belief systems
- The Salt Lake Tribune: Commentary: Time for Utah to examine tax policy and menstrual hygiene
- The New York Times: 22 States Considered Eliminating the ‘Tampon Tax’ This Year. Here’s What Happened.
- Yorkshire Evening Post: Poverty is a serious problem – period