The fight for menstrual equity made strides in Michigan last November, after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed a two-part bipartisan bill that repeals tax on essential menstrual products.
Under the law, feminine hygiene products, including tampons, pads, liners, menstrual cups and more,” will no longer be subject to Michigan’s 6% sales tax.
Opponents of the “tampon tax” have labeled it as unfair and a discriminatory economic burden to women. All states except for Illinois do not tax men for Viagra medication because it is deemed to be “medically necessary.” Yet, feminine hygiene products are considered a “luxury item” in 27 states and are subject to taxation.
“After years of trying to repeal this tax, I am proud that we are bringing people together to put Michiganders first and drive down costs on these essential products," Whitmer said in a statement. "Everyone should be able to take care of their most basic healthcare needs without an unnecessary added financial burden.”
Michigan joins 23 other states in repealing the tax in recent years. Almost 70% of women think sanitary items are “too expensive,” according to a survey conducted by OnePoll, which queried women on the financial impact of menstruation and period products. Shockingly, 60% of survey respondents admitted to budgeting so that they could afford to buy menstrual products, and 79% of respondents noted they made sacrifices to afford their feminine hygiene products.
If menstrual products were free, 41% of women surveyed said they would take a vacation, 39% said they would put the money toward retirement and 33% would save to buy a home.
"Menstruation doesn't choose sides of the aisle, and it is heartening to finally see the repeal of this tax on essential medical items,” said Lysne Tait, executive director of Helping Women Period, a nonprofit that provides menstrual products to underserved women.
Supporters of the bill estimate Michigan women will save $4,800 in taxes over the course of their lifetime. Estimates vary, but in her lifetime, the average American woman will spend more than $6,300 on period products, according to a 2019 study.
“The burden of this sales tax on necessary healthcare items promotes period poverty and impacts the amount of money families have to spend on other necessities,” Tait said. “This is a step in the right direction, and I look forward to the day when no one has to worry about affording menstrual products, month after month."