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Michigan city will require all public restrooms to carry free menstrual products

A student stocks a school bathroom with free pads and tampons to push for menstrual equity, at Justice High School in Falls Church, Va., in 2019.
A student stocks a school bathroom with free pads and tampons to push for menstrual equity, at Justice High School in Falls Church, Va., in 2019.

Ann Arbor will require all public restrooms in the city to carry menstrual products under a new ordinance that takes effect in January.

It means pads and tampons, as well as soap and toilet paper, will have to be available for free in every public restroom throughout the Michigan city.

"We as a society, for too long, have not taken menstruation seriously," Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor told NPR. "Access to menstrual products is a fundamental human necessity."

Some U.S. states and cities already supply free menstrual products at certain locations, such as school and homeless shelters, but Taylor said he believes Ann Arbor is the first jurisdiction to require them in all public restrooms.

"It's a matter of equity and personal dignity," he said. "I'm just glad that we were able to provide a public good at a low cost."

Last year, Scotland became the first country to offer menstrual products for free.

Taylor said he proposed the ordinance after hearing from a high school student who was concerned that people without established residences would have a hard time obtaining menstrual products. Ann Arbor's city council passed the ordinance unanimously on Monday.

It comes just weeks after Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed two laws repealing the state's tax on menstrual products, saying it would save residents the 6% levy on as much as $4,800 worth of expenses in a lifetime.

The Ann Arbor ordinance applies to all public restrooms regardless of gender designation, but it doesn't include private residences.

Violators could pay a civil fine of no more than $100.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.