Health Reform and Tampons: The New Tea Party

Where to start?

Did you know that the future of our country in relation to the deficit (and maybe even democracy and life as we know it on this planet) may rest on your consumption of Kotex, Playtex or OB tampons?  Fox News thinks so.  Thanks to our colleague Lucinda Marshall for calling our attention to this looming crisis.

In it’s ongoing "fact-based" coverage (as in, "we make up the facts and we report ’em"), Fox News has managed to equate the following: tampons, taxes, the deficit and….freedom.

Now, in my many years experience with tampons, I have never seen any interest by any major network in the fact that women pay out-of-pocket for tampons, sanitary pads and other related items every month, without, mind you, any reimbursement from any health insurance plan.  We’re just supposed to deal with menstruation for roughly 35 to 40 years, and in between get pregnant and birth the babies, without complaining about our periods, our pregnancies or our uncovered maternity care. 

Did anybody care before this whole health reform thing about the thousands of dollars we might spend on sanitary products, extra laundry, and all the rest over those many years?

Not to my knowledge.  

Did Fox News ever connect the dots on the loss of "freedom" many women feel every month due to potentially restricted activities, discomfort, and for some, pre-menstrual syndrome?  Only as fodder for jokes and as ways to marginalize women, not as a serious social issue!

The general attitude?  Just suck it up, gals!

But this may now be changing, as Fox News, suddenly, is concerned about the cost of tampons.


Because in their usual way, they’ve created a new factoid out of thin air (or should I say absorbent cotton), in that they now claim that the Obama Administration and that bastion of concern about gender-equity, the Senate Finance Committee Gang of Six (5 white dudes and a woman) will bring the country to the brink of ruin and threaten freedom by taxing tampons and condoms to pay for health care.

Why?  Because according to Fox, Obama can’t possibly pay for health reform unless he taxes class 2 and 3 medical devices, which, apparently, includes sanitary products.  They are predicting an uprising of angry citizens to protest these new taxes.  Those long strings on tampons do make it easier to wave them around at rallies…..

But still….I have a few questions: If a tampon is a "medical device," how come no one reimburses for
them?  Or should I have been submitting claims all these years?  Can we now have a serious discussion–maybe just one round of Sunday talk shows–devoted to the inequitable burden on women of our reproductive processes? Do we really know what kinds of profits Tampax is raking in?

Will the new attention to tampons as a focus of rage of the tea-baggers de-stigmatize these devices and make men any less embarassed to buy their girlfriend’s/wives sanitary products on a trip to the grocery store?  Or will we find a general backlash against any domestic shopping trips by men who use objection to the tax as a foil for not wanting to be seen in the feminine products aisle in the first place?

Honestly….I am more than willing to pay a little more in taxes for mine and my daughter’s sanitary products if the coverage of millions of the uninsured really hangs in the balance.

Aren’t you?

Alas, somehow I think that taking Fox seriously on their new concern about the cost of tampons, and their relationship both to the deficit and to freedom might be yet another diversionary tactic.  I’ve seen this somewhere before.


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  • betty-brown

    i’ve complained for many years about the cost of tampons/pads/panty liners. sure, many women may not consider them expensive – but when you grew up as poor as i did & had an adult life that’s hovered around the poverty level, believe me, that extra spending each month that you absolutely can not avoid – it hurts. and i’ve always maintained that if the male gender menstruated, those products would either be free or freakishly cheap. i recently had a financially devastating situation where i lost all of my savings & am penniless & unemployed. i came within days of homelessness(until a kind acquaintance offered me his couch). i went 10 days with only 1 meal. a family member wired me a very small amount of money for food for myself & my dogs. my period was going to be starting soon. you have no idea how it killed me to have to spend the equivalent of TWO MEALS in order to buy tampons & panty liners. BUT, let the idiots at fox pretend they give a crap about what women pay for tampons/pads/liners. those "morans" will come up with ANYTHING in an attempt to continue riling up their mindless followers. because, even though i can’t afford tampons at all right now, i’d still be fine with chipping in some extra tax on them if it meant i, and everyone, could have healthcare – which i don’t have & haven’t had in years. and i have the e.r. visits debt to show for it, too.truth?  is truth unchanging law?  we both have truths, are mine the same as yours?