This February, Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s appeal on the tampon tax officially went into effect. Previously, menstrual items such as tampons and pads were considered luxury supplies under state law and subject to a 6% sales tax, according to Bridge Michigan.
For those who menstruate, any price reduction on hygiene products can make a big difference in their finances. The statewide talk surrounding the removal of the tampon tax prompted us at the North Wind to think about accessibility of period products in our community. We have ASNMU’s Period Project to thank for greatly increasing this accessibility for students.
The ASNMU Period Project makes tampons and pads available for free in university bathrooms. Spearheaded by junior political science major Alison Deutsch, this project has helped out many a menstruator in their times of need. This project simply doesn’t get enough attention for the important resource it provides on campus.
We’re proud of our student government for being willing to talk about menstrual product availability and take direct, concrete action to aid students. It is projects like this that led to more public discourse on the subject of menstrual product accessibility, and ultimately built up enough statewide awareness to change tax policy.
For low-income individuals, especially homeless women, purchasing pads and tampons can become a real hardship. Many college students know and dread the expense of purchasing these items on a monthly basis. Taking the issue of menstrual product availability seriously ties into larger conversations surrounding women’s rights to make decisions regarding their bodies and their healthcare.
As a state, we’ve now removed a tax on a basic human need and helped the general public. Perhaps in the future, this recognition of basic needs will extend to tax breaks on other essential body-related items such as diapers. Healthcare products should not be considered luxury items. We should continue conversations around these issues until people can easily access all the products they need to survive.
Ultimately, the removal of the tampon tax may feel small. A single university’s program to provide free menstrual products may seem small as well. But these steps are both signs that women’s health issues are being prioritized more by our society, and that we’re having meaningful discourse on the topic. We’re taking steps in the right direction.