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Having Your Period in California Could Get Cheaper

Photograph by Getty Images

Life as a female in California appears to be getting better and better. First, the news that birth control pills will no longer require a doctor's note—uh, prescription. Now, news that lawmakers in the Golden State want to end the "tampon tax."

Assemblywomen Cristina Garcia (Democrat) and Ling Ling Chang (Republican) introduced a bill that would make tampons, pads and other menstrual hygiene products tax-free.

Garcia tweeted about the proposed law, saying if we can't make period products free, we should at least make them affordable.

She argues that charging women extra for being, you know, women further contributes to inequality, injustice and gender gaps.

"Women have no choice but to buy these products, so the economic effect is only felt by woman and women of color are particularly hard hit by this tax," Garcia wrote in a press release about the bill, which she introduced on the first day of the 2016 legislative session. "You can't just ignore your period; it's not like you can just ignore the constant flow."

Garcia estimates that California females pay more than $20 million every year for tampons, pads and other hygiene products for menstruation. Per menstruating woman, that's $7 every month. They do this, on average, for 40 years. The fact that men don't have to spend this amount over a lifetime exacerbates to income and monthly spending power differences between the sexes.

Think this is overstepping? Or somehow unfair? Consider this, Garcia writes: walkers, medical identification tags and prescription medicine—including the optional male product, Viagra—are exempt from California sales taxes.

Chang calls for the tax to end as it is a form of regulatory discrimination, one that unfairly targets girls and women.

"Our government is imposing a charge exclusively on women by forcing them to pay extra for the 'privilege' of a health necessity," Chang said.

If the bill becomes law, California will join Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania in dropping the tax on feminine hygiene products. Canada and other countries around the world, including the U.K. and Malaysia, have either reduced or completely dropped the "tampon tax."

Moms in California stand to doubly benefit if the state's lawmakers take seriously the jettisoning of taxes on necessary (and costly) hygiene products. Last May, the Assembly heard testimony from National Diaper Bank Network's Director of Policy, Research and Analysis Alison Weir who argued in favor of dropping taxes on diapers. Repealing the diaper tax, Weir said, would free up enough money for the purchase of 15 additional diapers—two days' worth on average and the same number studies show that low-income parents frequently fall behind on.

Last year, several states—including California, Connecticut, Illinois and Massachusetts—considered laws that would repeal the diaper tax.

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