Though getting anything through Congress these days is a daunting task, there is a piece of legislation that is of special interest to anyone concerned about women’s health. It’s a bill called The Robin Danielson Feminine Hygiene Product Safety Act (H.R. 1708),and it directs the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to determine through research whether feminine hygiene products that contain dioxin, synthetic fibers, and other chemical additives like chlorine, colorants and fragrances, pose health risks. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is the author of the bill which now has an additional six co-sponsors in Congress.
Unlike other political issues that involve women’s reproductive rights such as contraception or access to abortion, this initiative is relatively free of controversial elements (aside from the fact that it does require governmental regulation and testing, a factor that some extreme “anti-government” politicians oppose regardless of the value or intention). And the fact that the bill does not address the contentious issues might make it appealing to elected officials seeking to counter the impression that they are generally “anti-women” when it comes to making policy. In other words (though this might not be the best way to phrase it when writing to them), this is a chance for elected representatives to do something good for the vagina.
In addition to advocating for the legislative action, Maloney and her co-sponsors have taken the initiative of writing directly to Dr. Francis S. Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) urging the agency to take the lead on the recommended research.
The press release from Congresswoman Maloney’s office spells out the details of the issue, the letter to the NIH, and the names of its co-sponsors. Readers who live in the districts of these individuals are encouraged to thank them for their support. Others are urged to contact representatives in their home districts asking them to become co-sponsors and to vote in favor of it in committee and when (or if) it comes to the floor for a vote.
Here’s how to find the contact information for all member of the US Congress by zip code, probably the easiest way to find out who they are and the configuration of their districts:
It is noteworthy that the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research (SMCR) is identified as a supporter of the effort along with the Annie Appleseed Project, Liberty Feminine Care, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, NaturallySavvy, Red Web Foundation, and Women’s Voices for the Earth. Readers are invited to share this post with others and to get additional organizations involved in the effort.
David Linton is an Emeritus Professor at Marymount Manhattan College. He is also Editor of the SMCR Newsletter and a member of the re: Cycling editorial board. His research focus is on media representations of the menstrual cycle as well as how women and men relate to one another around the presence of menstruation.