Meng Renews Effort to Make Menstrual Hygiene Products More Accessible and Affordable to Women

Feb 13, 2017
Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) announced today that she has introduced the Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2017 (H.R. 972) which includes five provisions to help different populations of women and girls better access menstrual hygiene items.
 
“Menstrual hygiene products are not ubiquitous and cheap, despite what popular culture would have us believe,” said Meng. “Although most women use these products, many struggle to afford or access these essential items. This is unacceptable. Menstrual hygiene products are a necessity for most women, yet they are treated as luxury items. It is definitely not a luxury to menstruate, and my legislation acknowledges this reality by making it easier for women and girls to access the products that their anatomy requires. I urge all of my colleagues – both male and female – to support this important bill.”
  
Meng’s legislation would:
 
  1. Allow individuals to buy menstrual hygiene products with money they contribute to their flexible spending accounts.
  2. Provide a refundable tax credit to low-income individuals who regularly use menstrual hygiene products.
  3. Allow grant funds from the Emergency Food and Shelter Grant Program, which can be used by homeless assistance providers for essential household items, to be used for menstrual hygiene products.
  4. Require each state to provide menstrual hygiene products to female inmates and detainees, at no cost and on demand, as a condition of receiving funds from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program.
  5. Direct the Secretary of Labor to require employers with 100 or more employees to provide menstrual hygiene products to their employees free of charge.
 
In a Feeding America Survey conducted in 2011, individuals interviewed across the country in both low and higher income groups listed menstrual hygiene products in a group of eight basic essentials or “items that cannot be foregone or easily substituted.” The list also includes tooth paste, toilet paper, bath soap and other items.
 
It is estimated that up to 86% of women use tampons, up to 72% use pads, and 75% use panty liners. Most premenopausal women use menstrual hygiene products on a monthly basis, and the average woman will use 12,000 tampons in her lifetime. An average box of 36 tampons costs $7, so a woman will spend almost $2,500 over the course of her life on tampons alone. This does not include the cost of pads, panty liners, and other related products associated with menstruation.   
  
The Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2017 has been referred to the House Committees on Ways and Means, Financial Services, Judiciary, and Education and the Workforce.
 
Co-sponsors of the measure include Reps. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Steve Cohen (D-TN), John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Robin Kelly (D-IL), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Gwen Moore (WI), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), Darren Soto (D-FL), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), and Dina Titus (D-NV).
 
To view the full text of the bill, please click here.