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New York Lawmakers Request Federal Review of Menstrual Access

New York Lawmakers Request Federal Review of Menstrual Access

Democratic congressional lawmakers from New York are requesting a federal review of the accessibility and availability of menstrual products in the United States “to inform legislative efforts.”

The letter, addressed to U.S. Comptroller General Dodaro, who leads the Government Accountability Office, asks the GAO about the availability of menstrual products for Medicaid, SNAP, and WIC recipients, as well as incarcerated populations and public college students. The letter is signed by Reps. Yvette Clarke, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Carolyn Maloney, Grace Meng, Kathleen Rice, and Nydia Velázquez.

The letter asks:

  1. Under what circumstances may state Medicaid programs cover the cost of menstrual products for eligible beneficiaries, and what is known about the extent to which states cover menstrual products in their Medicaid programs?
  2. To what extent do the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC) cover menstrual products for eligible beneficiaries? For people who qualify for SNAP and WIC, what is known about the potential monthly costs of menstrual supplies, particularly as a proportion of their total income?
  3. For incarcerated or detained populations, what is known about the availability of such products and any concerns regarding the accessibility of menstrual products?
  4. What is known about the availability of free menstrual products at public colleges and universities?

According to research cited in the letter, the following groups disproportionately experience period poverty:

  • More than 10 percent of women in college can’t afford menstrual products on a monthly basis;
  • 50 percent of low-income students of color are forced to wear pads and tampons beyond recommended use.

“No one should be forced to compromise their health and sacrifice economic and educational opportunities because they cannot afford menstrual supplies in one of the wealthiest nations in the world,” Maloney told Rewire News Group. “I am grateful to partner with Congresswoman Meng and my colleagues to expand access to affordable menstrual products and look forward to GAO taking up this important review so that Congress can advance long overdue policies to address these historic inequities.”

According to the letter, “approximately one-quarter of people living in the United States have menstrual cycles, and the average menstruating person uses 16,000 tampons in their lifetime.”

Yet, in the year 2022, the “pink tax” and period poverty still burden them. States like California, New York, and Oregon have taken steps to relieve period poverty—but a person’s access to basic hygiene products shouldn’t be dependent on where they live or even the generosity of charitable organizations. It should be a basic human right.

This post was adapted from a Twitter thread.

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