Menstrual Product Access Bill Advances

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Bill to Provide Menstrual Health Products in Schools Builds Support

(Sacramento) –Assemblymember Cristina Garcia’s (D-Bell Gardens) legislation to provide free menstrual products in Title 1 schools, AB 10, today was approved by the Assembly. 

“Women and girls do not get to choose when or if they have their period; it’s basic biology,” said Garcia.  “We must make menstrual products available to women and girls who struggle with access to these basic health necessities. If we truly value women’s health, we’ll remove the stigma associated with a basic healthcare need and treat this fact-of-life like any other medical necessity.”

Tampons and pads are healthcare essentials and should be provided for free in Title 1 schools to remove barriers to education, as well as curtail absenteeism and public health issues, according to the legislation.   Last year New York City ran a pilot program installing tampon and pad dispensers in ten of its schools.  The outcome showed an increase in attendance prompting the State of New York to institute the program in all its schools. Given schools are funded by the federal government in part by attendance; increased attendance alone is an economic incentive for schools throughout California to make these health products available to students, particularly those in Title 1 (low income) funded schools.

“No young girl should miss school because she doesn’t have access to these basic healthcare items,” added Garcia who is also the chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus.  “California is now behind the curve on this social justice issue.  Menstrual products are basic healthcare needs.”

The Federal Drug Administration lists menstrual products as medical devices.  Women are most sensitive to bacterial infections during their periods and women who try to extend the amount of time they use a tampon risk serious health consequences.  One young girl testified that her father worked on a neighbor’s car to barter for pads or she used rolled newspapers to absorb her period when her family could not afford the essentials, just so she could attend school.

Next week, Garcia is holding a menstrual product drive in the Capitol with her colleagues seeking donations for women in need of these basic healthcare items.  Participating members will have donation boxes in their offices.

The bill will next be heard in the Senate.

The 58th Assembly District includes the cities of Montebello, Pico Rivera, Commerce, Bell Gardens, Downey, Norwalk, Bellflower, Cerritos and Artesia.