By Madina Toure
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) has introduced a bill that aims to make feminine hygiene products such as tampons and pads more accessible and affordable to women.
The measure, the Fund Essential Menstruation Products Act, would add such products to the list of items that can be bought with funds in a Flexible Spending Account.
FSAs allow for individuals to place up to $2,550 of their income in an untaxed account, where the money can be used for certain medical expenses such as bandages, crutches and prescription medications, according to Meng.
“Not having access to sanitary feminine hygiene products can cause health problems for women, and purchasing these items is a continuous and costly expense that females must bear for much of their lives, from when menstruation begins at about age 12 to the time of menopause at approximately 54 years of age,” she said.
Meng’s legislation has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee, where it is awaiting further action.
Under the bill, FSA funds would be allowed for various types of feminine hygiene products, including tampons, pads, liners, cups, sponges, douches, wipes and sprays.
Women constitute 50.8 percent of the U.S. population and in an average lifetime, a woman will use about 10,000 tampons or pads, Meng said.
City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-East Elmhurst), who is pushing to have free feminine hygiene products available in all New York City public school restrooms, expressed support for Meng’s proposal.
“I applaud and wholeheartedly support Rep. Grace Meng’s work to improve access and affordability to menstrual products,” Ferreras said. “New York is a known leader in the fight for women’s equality, and the Fund Essential Menstruation Products Act once again positions this state at the forefront of this national issue.”
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour