Ann Arbor becomes first US city to require free menstrual products in public restrooms

The City Council unanimously voted on a law Monday, require all public restrooms in a college community of 120,000 residents — including those located inside businesses — to provide free tampons and tampons, as well as toilet paper. soap and soap.

Violations of the ordinance, effective January 1, 2022, will result in a $100 fine, according to the law.

Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor, who proposed the ordinance, said “this is necessary and far from over.”

“Access to these items is a matter of dignity, a human necessity and a right to health care,” Taylor said at a city council meeting on Monday.

The idea for this ordinance stemmed from a conversation Taylor had with a high school student in which she expressed concern that homeless people don’t have access to menstrual products, Taylor said. speak.

ONE study in St. Louis, Missouri published in 2019 found that nearly two-thirds of low-income women were unable to purchase products at least once in the past year.

National nonprofit officials advocating increased access to menstrual products believe Ann Arbor is the first city in the United States to pass legislation mandating products beyond municipal-owned buildings .

Michela Bedard, executive director of PERIOD., a nonprofit that aims to end the stigma and high cost of menstruation, told CNN, “It’s entirely possible that there’s a very small town out there that has made this decision and they did it without fanfare. either meeting or helping with the advocacy. But certainly, this is the first major metropolis to make waves like this.”

Nancy Kramer, founder of Free The Tampon, an organization that promotes toilet equality for business leaders and policymakers, says the products will be made available at all public restrooms.

“It really gives anyone menstruating a sense of reassurance that they don’t currently have,” says Kramer. “And it just keeps us from having any potential levels of shame or humiliation.”

A long time coming

Advocates and organizations promoting cost reductions and the stigma surrounding menstrual products tell CNN momentum has built into what Bedard calls this “tide-changing” decision over the past few days. over the past year, as state and local governments have taken steps to increase access to these products.

California, New Hampshire and West Virginia was one of several states to vote to include menstrual products in school restrooms.
New York City enacted a program to put free tampons and pads into schools, homeless shelters and prisons in 2016, in a move Kramer said at the time. that “leads the way forward”, according to a New information posted.
Brookline, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, is is said to be the first municipality of the United States according to the advocacy organization Massachusetts City Association.
The Ann Arbor Executive Order was issued on the heels of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer sign an invoice repeal certain taxes on menstrual products on November 4, a move seen by Bedard and other organizers as a victory.

“We hope that this will trickle in and that one day in our lifetime we will realize that these products need to be everywhere, to be accessible,” Bedard said.

At the federal level, menstrual equality organizers have seen both wins and losses in recent years.

ONE proposed bill in 2019 by New York Congresswoman Grace Meng, would have directed all federal public buildings to provide free menstrual support products in the bathroom and Medicaid would cover the cost of these products. for subscribers, but it died in Congress, according to the nonpartisan law tracker GovTracker. Meng recommend a similar bill in 2021.
Menstrual treatment products are starting to qualify as medical expenses payable through flexible spending accounts, health savings accounts, or reimbursement programs through passed the CARES . Act, providing Covid-19 relief funding in 2020.

“This is a crisis that has been completely ignored in our country – and it is about to expire,” Bedard said. “This will be normalized over the next few years and to address the systemic reasons for this we need to change this at the policy level.”


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