Texas eliminated the ‘tampon tax’ on menstrual products


Good news on the womens’ health policies front, and it’s from… Texas? Did I wake up in the right year today? So the Texas that declared the FDA couldn’t authorize the abortion medication mifepristone, the Texas that banned abortion immediately after the Dobbs decision. This Texas has actually enacted a law that benefits women? Well as I live and breathe. Texas has joined the ranks of the majority of states (and the UK) to eliminate the tampon tax, with a law that went into effect in September. Some specifics on the new law and the movement behind it:

Sept. 1 marked the end of the ‘tampon tax’ in Texas: Shoppers in Texas no longer have to pay a sales tax on menstrual products, making the state one of the few in the nation to eliminate the so-called “tampon tax.” A new law that went into effect Friday eliminates the sales tax on feminine hygiene products including items like tampons, menstrual pads and menstrual cups.

Family care items are also now sales tax-free under the new law: In addition to menstrual products, the law, S.B. 379, also eliminates the sales tax on family care items including diapers, baby bottles, baby wipes, maternity clothing and breast milk pump products. The law, signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in June, makes Texas one of nearly two dozen states that no longer charge a sales tax on diapers, according to the National Diaper Bank Network, a nonprofit organization.

The realities of period poverty are appalling: Period poverty, when people cannot afford even the most basic of period supplies like pads and tampons, is an issue that affects women around the world, including the United States. A 2019 survey of low-income women in St. Louis, Missouri, found nearly two-thirds couldn’t afford menstrual hygiene products in the past year, and more than 1 in 5 said they had the same problem every month. The women said they instead had to use cloth, rags, tissues, toilet paper and sometimes diapers or paper towels, according to the report published in the medical journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Texas Republican state Sen. Joan Huffman, sponsor of the law, speaks: “Every woman knows that these products are not optional,” Huffman said in a statement last year. “They are essential to our health and well-being and should be tax exempt.”

Let’s not praise Texas too much too soon: Texas’ law eliminating sales tax on menstrual and baby products comes as the state continues to enforce several strict abortion laws, including one prohibiting all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, except in medical emergencies, which the laws do not define. Under these bans, performing or attempting an abortion is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The law also allows private citizens to sue anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion.

[From Yahoo! News]

So my reading of this was “oh, they snuck the tampons in under the cover of diapers and baby bottles.” I’m sorry, but I just have trouble trusting Texas lawmakers these days. State Senator Joan Huffman may have sponsored this law, but take a look at her record: she’s voted in favor of schools displaying the ten commandments and requiring transgender student athletes to play against “those of their biological sex,” while voting down a 1% energy savings goal and – get ready – equal pay for women.

Cynicism aside, I’m pleased that the elimination of the tampon tax is steadily sweeping the nation. But I’m reserving full triumph until all period products are free, like Scotland made law for its citizens in November 2020. The obvious economic inequity affects all women, and in particular those who suffer period poverty and are forced to improvise in demeaning ways, all for essential healthcare needs. It’s misogyny, plain and simple.

Here are links to two sites that are great resources for more info on the movement to end period poverty.




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