Two California politicians kicked off the 2016 state legislative session this week by talking about an unlikely subject: menstrual periods. Assemblywomen Cristina Garcia, a Democrat, and Ling Ling Chang, a Republican, introduced a bill Tuesday that would classify feminine hygiene products as medical necessities. Sanitary napkins and tampons would join items like prescription medications and walkers in being exempt from taxation, the Guardian reported.
"Basically, we are being taxed for being women," Garcia said in a news release. "This is a step in the right direction to fix this gender injustice. Women have no choice but to buy these products, so the economic effect is only felt by woman [sic] and women of color are particularly hard hit by this tax. You can't just ignore your period; it's not like you can just ignore the constant flow."
The news release said the average California woman pays about $7 a month on period products for about 40 years of her life. That adds up to more than $3,000 over a woman's life, or about $20 million total in taxes for the state every year.
Chang said in the release that the tax was a form of regulatory discrimination. She also told the Washington Post it differed from male-specific hygiene items like condoms because using menstrual products was not a choice. "It's a biological function that women can't control," she said. "Which makes it different. I can't really see any other product specifically for men that is comparable."
Garcia and Chang weren't the first lawmakers to propose scrapping the so-called Pink Tax. Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Minnesota are among the states that have eliminated it in recent years. Abroad, Canada removed its tampon tax, though Australia and the United Kingdom both saw protests on the issue in 2015, according to the Sacramento Bee.