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Pennsylvania House Passes Bill to Provide Free Pads and Tampons for Students

Republican State Rep. Stephanie Borowicz objected to the legislation arguing it could lead to "communism."

A Republican state lawmaker said Tuesday she opposed a bill that would make pads and tampons free for public school students because it could lead to communism. 

House Bill 851 would create a grant program to provide public schools with funding to distribute menstrual hygiene products free to students. It passed the Democratic-controlled House Tuesday by a vote of 117 to 85

Rep. Stephanie Borowicz (R-Clinton) objected to language in the bill’s co-sponsorship memo which referred to menstruating “people,” and said on the House floor that the legislation was “just another step by the governor and Democrats to have government provide everything for you, which leads to communism. A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take everything away.” 

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Rep. Darisha Parker (D-Philadelphia), one of the bill’s prime sponsors, said on the House floor that its intent is to support students. “But more importantly, it’s also an opportunity to restore the dignity to these women and girls who have gone unsupported far too long,” Parker said. 

Two in five people struggle to purchase menstruation products, Parker added, “and for those who cannot afford them, they end up utilizing unsafe unsanitary measures including the usage of newspapers, rags, and socks instead of pads, panty liners or tampons.”

Gov. Josh Shapiro’s $48 billion 2024-25 budget proposal calls for $3 million in funding to provide free pads and tampons in Pennsylvania schools. The proposal notes that nationally, 1 in 4 teens have missed class due to a lack of access to menstrual hygiene supplies.

“This budget makes feminine hygiene products available at no cost in our schools because girls deserve to have peace of mind so they can focus on learning,” Shapiro said during his budget address in February.

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Shapiro praised the bill on social media Tuesday, calling it a “big step forward.”

As of April 2024, 27 states and Washington D.C. had passed legislation to provide free menstrual products to students in schools. 

“The truth we need to broadcast loudly and often is that having a period isn’t shameful or unclean, and it’s not something you should feel obligated to hide,” Rep. Carol Hill-Evans (D-York), another of the bill’s prime sponsors, said in a press release Tuesday. “When we talk about menstrual health and acceptance, what we are ultimately talking about is our continued fight for empowerment as women.”

The bill now heads to the GOP-controlled Senate for consideration.

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

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Picture of Kim Lyons, Author at Penn-Capital Star

Kim Lyons, Author at Penn-Capital Star

Kim Lyons is a veteran western Pennsylvania journalist who has covered people and trends in politics and business for local and national publications. Follow her on Threads @social_kimly

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