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Should Menstrual Products Be Free in America?

September 20, 2022

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Scotland has become the first country to pass a law that ensures that certain menstrual products are free of charge to anyone who needs them. The country is the first to make a law to protect what some consider to be financial equality.

How did this revolutionary law come about? According to BBC News reporter Claire Diamond, “In 2018, a survey of more than 2,000 people by Young Scot found that about one in four respondents at school, college or university in Scotland had struggled to access period products.” Later that year, Scotland launched the idea of making period products free for students.

Scotland isn’t the first place to offer free menstrual products. According to National Public Radio (NPR), “In the U.S. some states have passed legislation requiring public K-12 schools to provide period products free of cost, including New York, Virginia, and Oregan.” Other states have passed laws making menstrual products either tax exempt, or covered by Medicare.

Some feel that laws such as these are long overdue, especially with the cost of living skyrocketing the last few years. In fact, NPR notes that one 2019 survey of low-income women found that “nearly half reported having to choose between food and menstrual products at some point during the year.”

So should America follow Scotland’s example and make such products free to all? “As a person who lives in a household with three girls, free is where it needs to be,” said FCHS teacher Kate Chidester. Junior Summer McGraw feels the same way. “I think it’s a great idea. Period products should be considered a necessity and be available everywhere,” she said. Between McGraw, her sister, and her mom, they spend about $200 a year for menstrual products.

There are pros and cons to this situation, though. People who are in need would get free access to needed items. Yet who will pay the price for this? Those who pay taxes, of couse, since the government gets its money from taxing its citizens. Some argue that taxes are too high already, and is it fair to force those who don’t have menstrual periods to have to pay for those who do? For her part, Chidester says yes. “If you think about it, it could fall under healthcare. They [the government] have state healthcare.”

Still, if menstrual products are considered a right because many people need them and can’t afford them, then what about backpacks, pens, pencils, or clothes? Should the government provide those things for free too? Since that would mean even higher taxes on everyone, is that fair to those who never had or no longer have periods?

While U.S. Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) introduced the Menstrual Equity for All Act in 2019, it has yet to be passed. Time will tell if if America follows Scotland’s path.

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About the Contributor
Photo of Brooke Smith
Brooke Smith, Journalist

Brooke is in 11th grade, this is her first year in Journalism. She enjoys reading and writing. After college, she plans on opening her own bakery.

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