If you are a woman who gets a period you have probably found yourself in a situation where you may have been surprised and, in turn, needed a menstrual product.
But, what do you do when there are none to be found in public restrooms? Sure, you could go to the store and buy some. But, what about those who are struggling financially? What if you find yourself on a long road trip with no convenience stores in sight?
These kinds of situations are exactly why Ann Arbor's new law regarding menstrual product availability is so important.
As reported by CNN, Ann Arbor's city council just unanimously voted to pass a new ordinance that would require all public restrooms to provide free tampons and pads. Yes, this includes businesses as well.
What's the Deal?
Since the law is newly passed, it won't go into effect until January of 2022. At that point, those found in violation will face a $100 fine.
The now-passed ordinance, proposed by Ann Arbor's Mayor, Christopher Taylor, makes Ann Arbor the first U.S. city to have mandates requiring the provision of these products outside of government buildings.
Taylor, according to CNN, had the idea thanks to a high school student who expressed her own concern about those who are homeless and their access to these kinds of products.
Why Do They Need to Be Free?
To those who don't experience periods, you may be wondering why these products should be provided for free. I could spout off my own beliefs about how it's part of necessary health care, that all women should be able to feel comfortable while dealing with their periods, and so on. But, since this is not an opinion piece, let's look at some facts.
In 2019, a study out of Missouri found that,
nearly two-thirds of low-income women could not afford the products at least once within the past year.
That means that these women, when they could not afford menstrual products, would have to find alternatives. After all, they still have to go to work, still have to take care of the kids, still have to run errands, and so on. Alternatives to having actual menstrual products could look like using toilet paper to old socks and everything in between.
CNN went on to quote Nancy Kramer, founder of Free The Tampon, who said it best:
Knowing these products will be available in all public restrooms will both ensure inequities caused by menstruating are mitigated, and allow people to live uninhibited lives.
Accessible menstrual products can also impact one's dignity. Consider the ridicule one can face by simply sitting in something that leaves an unsightly stain. Now, imagine that you've bled through your pants in a public setting. From personal experience, it can be humiliating. Especially, since there's such a huge stigma around periods. It's something that can easily be avoided with public access to these products.
Ann Arbor's new law follows a recently passed Michigan bill that removes the "tampon tax." You can read more here.
The hope is that this kind of law will become more commonplace throughout our country and will help solve an often overlooked crisis. As for Ann Arbor's law specifically, you can find more information, other states that are working to implement similar laws, and more here.