Meng Introduces Legislation to Make Feminine Hygiene Products-Such as Tampons and Pads-More Affordable to Women

Feb 2, 2016
Press Release

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) introduced legislation that seeks to make feminine hygiene products such as tampons and pads more accessible and affordable to women.

The measure, entitled the Fund Essential Menstruation Products (FEM) Act, would add feminine hygiene products to the list of items that can be purchased with funds in a Flexible Spending Account (FSA).

“An FSA allows for individuals to place up to $2,550 of their income in an untaxed account, where the money can be used for certain medical expenses like bandages, crutches, and prescription medications,” said Meng. “It only makes sense to include tampons, pads and other feminine hygiene products as well. Not having access to sanitary feminine hygiene products can cause health problems for women, and purchasing these items is a continuous and costly expense that females must bear for much of their lives, from when menstruation begins at about age 12 to the time of menopause at approximately 54 years of age. We must make these necessary items as affordable as possible, and including feminine hygiene products in an FSA is the most practical approach to making that happen.”

“Feminine hygiene products are not luxury items for women and girls--they are essential to our health and allow us to perform our daily activities at school, work and in our communities despite our natural bodily functions,” said New York Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-Queens) who is pushing to have free feminine hygiene products available in all New York City public school restrooms. “I applaud and wholeheartedly support Rep. Grace Meng’s work to improve access and affordability to menstrual products. New York is a known leader in the fight for women’s equality, and the Fund Essential Menstruation Products Act once again positions this state at the forefront of this national issue. I look forward to soon having tampons and pads easily available to women and girls across New York.” 

Meng’s legislation (H.R. 3117) has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee where it is awaiting further action. Under the bill, FSA funds would be allowed for numerous types of feminine hygiene products such as tampons, pads, liners, cups, sponges, douches, wipes, sprays, and similar items used by women with respect to menstruation or other genital-tract secretions.

Women make up 50.8% of the U.S. population, and in an average lifetime, a woman will use about 10,000 tampons or pads—two of the most common types of feminine hygiene products.

In a Feeding America Survey conducted in 2011, individuals interviewed in both low and higher income groups across the country, listed feminine hygiene products in a group of eight basic needed products or “items that cannot be foregone or easily substituted.” The list also included tooth paste, toilet paper, bath soap and other items.