Tampons and Pads Will Be Free in New York City Schools and Prisons

Tampon (Lydia's Lunchbox)

Tampon (Lydia’s Lunchbox)

Last year, the New York City council voted in favor of providing free tampons and pads to women in public schools, shelters and correctional facilities. The measure passed unanimously, and the program will be the first of its kind.

It’s expected that the city will spend $2.4M for menstrual supplies across the public facilities. Within shelters, an estimated “2 million tampons and 3.5 million pads” will be distributed for the 23K women, costing $540K annually.

Here’s how it would work for public schools:

Dispensers will be installed in the girls’ bathrooms at 800 schools, reaching 300,000 students at an initial cost of $3.7 million and $1.9 million annually thereafter.

The bill was created by New York City Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland. Regarding why the bill was important, Ferreras-Copeland said, “Menstrual hygiene products are as necessary as toilet paper and should be treated as basic bathroom supplies.”

There’s also the fact that menstrual products are a necessary expense for women of childbearing age. This expense, which has been dubbed the “tampon tax” (though it refers to all types of menstrual products), takes a chunk (around $100 per year) out of women’s already diminished paychecks. Lately, there’s been some pushback on this price of being female-bodied: Last year, five women sued the state of New York to abolish the tampon tax.

No word on when the bill will become law, and the program can begin.

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Five Women File Class Action Suit to Lift New York’s Tampon Tax

Tampon (Salon)

Tampon (Salon)

Did you know that a tampon tax exists? No? A lot of people don’t. Thankfully, that’s about to change.

The “tampon tax” is a sales tax applied to feminine hygiene needs (tampons and pads). Many states have one in place, and it’s been proven to really add up over time (especially since the average women menstruates for around 37 years).

Right now, women aren’t going to take it any more. Five women in New York have filed a class-action lawsuit against commissioner Jerry Boone and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. Their stance is that feminine hygiene products aren’t classified as medical use, and so are relegated to the 4% sales tax.

The lawsuit also models the amount of money women are spending through this tax:

According to the lawsuit, women spend on average more than $70 a year on tampons and pads, and women who menstruate constitute more than one-quarter of New York state’s 20 million population. The plaintiffs estimate that the state collects around $14 million in taxes by imposing a four percent sales tax on tampons and pads, less than one-hundredth of one percent of the state’s annual budget of $142 billion.

And the five women bringing the lawsuit aren’t the only ones who think the tax should be outlawed:

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday that the tax should be repealed. Earlier this year, Manhattan Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal introduced a bill seeking to end the state’s taxation on tampons and pads.

It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes to affect change in this area.

Planned Parenthood Endorses Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton (The Washington Times)

Hillary Clinton (The Washington Times)

Planned Parenthood has endorsed a candidate for the primary election: Hillary Clinton, the only woman running for the Democratic nomination. This is the first time in Planned Parenthood’s 100-year history that the organization has endorsed a candidate.

For this who’ve been living under a rock, Planned Parenthood provides a number of serves for womens’ reproductive health, including birth control, Pap smears and abortions.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that women’s issues will take up a prominent share of issues discussed leading up to this year’s election. Last week, Republicans in the Senate voted to defund Planned Parenthood. Thankfully, they didn’t get very far, since President Obama vetoed it.

I hope this endorsement brings out women (and men!) to the polls who might not’ve voted otherwise come November.

 

Why Are Girls Entering Puberty Earlier?

Teen girl (Barnorama)

Teen girl (Barnorama)

It might seem like teenage girls are looking younger and younger each year, but there’s some truth to that. Researchers are finding that the age of onset puberty has been declining over the years, and girls are beginning to physically resemble grown women at younger ages.

A 2010 study put out by “Pediatrics,” the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) journal, followed a cohort of 1.2K+ girls between the ages of six and eight years of age from New York, Cincinnati and San Francisco. The study measured breast “budding,” normally the first physical step in female puberty. The results found that girls were beginning this stage around ages seven or eight, which is earlier than girls who were born only 10 years ago. (Incidentally, there was no change in age of first menstruation.)

This is even earlier than what was found in a previous AAP study completed in 1997. That year, results showed that girls began puberty between eight and nine years of age.

So what’s been causing the change? There appears to be a link between sugary drinks and early onset puberty for girls. The study defined early puberty as age of first menstruation, but not by breast budding.

It appears more research is needed, but this is an issue that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Why is Argentina Battling a Tampon Shortage?

o.b. Tampons (Jezebel)

o.b. Tampons (Jezebel)

“The Cut” recently reported that Argentina is currently experiencing a woman’s worst nightmare: a tampon shortage.

According to the Associated Press, the shortage has been going on for over two weeks. The problem stems from an impasse between importers and the government. Businesses think the Argentinean government has been slow in issuing permits for imports (Argentina imports most of its tampons from nearby Brazil), while the government feels that businesses are driving up the prices to increase profits.

A spokesman for Johnson & Johnson claims that only the most popular tampon brands and quantities are affected by the shortage.

The situation isn’t uncommon for the country. Argentina periodically has experienced shortages of medical supplies such as needles and latex gloves.

The U.S. experienced a similar situation form 2009 to 2011. Johnson & Johnson took o.b. tampons off shelves in 2009, citing a “temporary supply interruption.”  The tampons are beloved for not having an applicator and for being environmentally-friendly. The supply shortage emptied drugstore shelves and drove demand up to $99 a box on eBay. The o.b. black market ended when stores began to restock the popular tampon.

No explanation was ever given for the shortage.