Over half of our country's population experiences menstruation as part of their regular lives. Reproductive healthcare needs to be taken more seriously as a part of national healthcare policy by both lawmakers and grassroots change-makers.
In March 2019, Colorado State Assemblymembers Leslie Herod and Faith Winter introduced the bill they co-sponsored, HB19-1224. The bill was created with the intention to guarantee free menstrual hygiene products, such as pads and tampons, for people in custody. These would also be provided at no additional cost to the person requesting it without restrictions, as Herod explains is necessary. This bill would include institutions from local and municipal jails to correctional facilities and private prisons — all held accountable for the law's enforcement.
Unlike quite a few other pieces of legislation that we have, healthcare or otherwise, this bill passed in both houses of the Colorado State Legislature, the Colorado House of Representatives and Senate. The bill was then signed and passed to become law by Colorado Governor Jared Polis in April 2019. One month is all it took to recognize reproductive and menstrual rights in the state of Colorado — as it should take for legislation this important to become law.
This basic recognition of the importance of reproductive health rights gives hope and adds to the other continuing efforts to secure universal reproductive rights. It shows that a bipartisan effort to make change is necessary and possible — especially considering that both parties in the Colorado General Assembly passed the bill unanimously. In a modern country, we shouldn't have the same reproductive problems other countries with far fewer resources do. Importance needs to be given to all healthcare requirements necessary for our citizens.
Reproductive and menstrual health can't be a partisan issue. Law-makers and constituents on both sides of the aisle are affected by these laws or the lack of them. From subsidizing menstrual products for all people that menstruate (and not enforcing a tampon tax) to providing sterile, hygiene products for homeless populations, the possibilities are endless for the changes that we can make as a nation.Menstruation isn't the most glamorous or easily-discussed issue, but that isn't the point. Not all essential, human requirements can be the casual subjects of dinner talk. However, that conversation needs to happen. After all, menstrual hygiene products and reproductive healthcare should be available easily and affordably to the women who makeup more than half the U.S. population.