LANSING, Mich. — Advocates rallied at the Michigan Capitol Mall on Saturday to urge lawmakers to put an end to sales and use taxes on menstrual products sold in Michigan.
“We know that for everybody, things like soap, deodorant, toothpaste are necessary for maintaining our hygiene, and we also know that products like pads and tampons are just as necessary for maintaining hygiene," said Ashley Rapp who serves as a student representative of PERIOD. "The only difference is that these products are needed by half the population, while the other half don't need them.”
Period products in Michigan are subject to a 6% sales and use tax which makes these products more expensive. For people living with low income or even in poverty, the tax can create a real barrier to period products.
“27 states including Michigan still have a tampon tax and if Michigan repeals its tampon tax it would become the 24th state to do so," said Anusha Singh who works as the national campaigns lead for Period.org. "Menstrual justice is health care, justice, economic justice, gender, justice and the list goes on.”
Without access to period products, people across Michigan are forced to make do with what they have— which can mean leaks, stains and for some students, even missing school because of their periods.
Elizabeth Tuttle attended Saturday's rally with two friends and said that to her, access to period products is an issue of fairness.
“It's completely unfair," she said. "It's unfair taxation. When you look at the other products that are deemed necessary that are not taxed and then you realize that tampons and pads still are. To me, it's a no brainer."
Tuttle explained that taxing period products places an additional barrier for people who menstruate.
"It's unfair and it places an unfair burden on a lot of menstruating people," she said.
Lysne Tate who helped organize the rally and is the executive director of Helping Women Period said that the next step in the fight is passing legislation to end the tampon tax in Michigan.
“The step in the right direction would be get the tampon tax removed," she said. "I think that would be the most important thing.”
Tate explained that another goal she has in mind for mid-Michigan is getting free period products into all the local schools.