Indiana Democrats want to eliminate ‘period tax’ for Hoosier women

“The majority taxes our bodies as they strip away our rights,” Sen. Yoder said

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana remains one of 22 states that continues to tax menstrual and feminine hygiene products, a practice often called discriminatory toward women due to forcing them to pay a higher cost than their male counterparts for needed hygienic products.

Indiana Democrats, spearheaded by Senator Shelli Yoder (D-Bloomington), plan to once again challenge this practice in 2024.

While previous attempts to eliminate the “period tax” in Indiana have failed to garner support from the Republican majority who control the state, Yoder plans to forge ahead with a new attempt in 2024 to strike down the tax on feminine hygiene products such as tampons and pads.

“Under our laws in Indiana, Twix bars, marshmallow fluff, unpopped popcorn — they are all untaxed,” said Sen. Yoder. “And yet, we tax tampons and pads. We tax the ability for women and girls to go to work and to go to school.”

Yoder said the “period tax” forces a fee unto girls and women that men do not have to pay. A fee Indiana Republicans have had previous chances to address, yet have failed to support.

“The majority taxes our bodies as they strip away our rights,” Yoder said in an address to Hoosier women. “They build an economy on the backs of women but refuse to guarantee them equality. The period tax and the control of women’s bodies has to end.”

Legislation to tear down the “period tax” is just but one of the bills Yoder intends to present to the statehouse in 2024.

Yoder also intends to reintroduce her bill that aims to nullify Indiana’s controversial near-total abortion ban put in place by Senate Enroll Act 1.

Yoder’s bill would ensure that Hoosier women can access abortion care for up to 20 weeks and would grant survivors of rape and incest “more than 10 weeks to make one of the biggest and most difficult decisions of their lives.”

“As I said a little over a year ago when the Supreme Court of the United States overturned the landmark Roe V. Wade decision, ending decades of guaranteed autonomy, liberty, and privacy for millions of American women. Women’s right to an abortion, their freedom to choose, their rights to autonomy, and religious freedom were undercut thanks to an extreme, vocal minority with outsized political influence,” Yoder said.

“In Indiana, statehouse Republicans showed no hesitation, no mercy. They stepped on the protests of their own constituents and rushed to ban abortion. What followed was a rushed, disorganized, and secretive special session resulting in a radical law that strips half of the state’s population, nearly completely, of their freedom to choose.”

Yoder said that a majority of Hoosiers support access to abortion and blamed the Republican majority in control of Indiana legislation of failing to represent its constituents.

Dr. Amy Caldwell spoke at the reproductive rights gathering at the Indiana Statehouse on Tuesday and said that since the passage of Indiana’s near-total abortion ban, she had “personally seen patients try to end pregnancies in ways that were unsafe and dangerous because they thought they had no other option.”

“I’ve even had a patient, forced to drive across state lines to access care, that got in a near-fatal car crash,” Caldwell said. “And these are just the stories of the patients that find us, the patients that can access care. Imagine all the people that never find the way.”

Caldwell was critical of Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita and his public fight with Dr. Caitlin Bernard, who provided an abortion to a rape victim well prior to the passage of Senate Enrolled Act 1. She called his investigation into Bernard “unfounded” and labeled it an “intimidation campaign” leveled at reproductive healthcare providers.

“(Rokita) has failed the people of Indiana that he swore an oath to protect,” Caldwell said. “What he has done, however, is cause fear and confusion which may very well impact our ability to recruit OBGYNs to a state where there’s already a shortage.”

Conservative states across the United States have acted swiftly in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, with 20 states enacting total or stricter bans. Many state bans, including Indiana’s, have been blocked by courts.

“Anti-abortion politicians are not done using their power to control bodies,” said Sen. Greg Taylor. “Nationwide they will continue working to restrict different forms of health care that they do not agree with.”

Yoder said a third legislative bill she intends to introduce in 2024 will attempt to ensure the safety and health of pregnant Hoosier women by regulating and offering oversight on crisis pregnancy centers.

“These facilities prey on women at their most vulnerable,” Yoder said. “Their underlying mission is to discourage women seeking help from accessing health care.”

Indiana’s near-total abortion ban has also faced challenges in court by those who claim it infringes upon their religious freedom. Recently, a judge allowed a class action lawsuit brought against the state to move forward.

“The government should not have the final say on Hoosiers’ private health care decisions,” said Sen. Taylor. “And this freedom should always, always rest with the people.”

Indiana Republicans stated they had no comment in response to the Indiana Democrat leaders’ rally on Tuesday.

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