Once again, the Internet is blowing up over a newly discovered (i.e. suddenly enforced) federal regulation. This time, it’s cloth menstrual pads. Yes, guys, they exist. They can come in cute patterns and colors, be made to order, and are oh, so comfy. Like the rebirth of cloth diapers in myriad adorable, cozy, eco-friendly forms, cloth pads (sometimes called “mama-cloth”) offer an alternative to the landfill-stuffing, sometimes chemical-laden and uncomfortable disposable options lining grocery store shelves.
You may be surprised to learn that menstrual pads, both disposable and reusable, are classified as “medical devices”, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “intended for use in the diagnosis of disease or other conditions or in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or to affect the structure or function of the body.”
This classification is of some use to large corporations that produce disposable pads because they are then free to limit their disclosure of what materials they use to manufacture them. (The FDA protects proprietary ingredients and formulas.) But then, the idea of a piece of fabric affecting the “structure of function of the body” or menstruation being considered a “disease” is ludicrous. So, if a piece of cloth is sewn into a shirt, it’s a shirt, but if it’s tucked into your undies, it’s a medical device. Got that?
Pay Us to Annoy You Or Forfeit Your Business
The exact wording of the FDA regulations is as convoluted and byzantine as the public expects from the bloated federal government, but their intended meaning seems to be that the agency has the discretion to charge a premarket notification fee to any business that produces menstrual pads. This fee helps pay for the FDA to regulate the market to prevent unsafe products (medical devices) from reaching consumers.
The FDA has had this fee for years, yet until a few weeks ago, only a few of the larger cloth menstrual pad producers were aware of it or paying it. In early December, small business owners, mostly work-at-home moms, were informed that they had until the end of the year to pay this nearly $4,000 fee or get out of the business. The profit margin of the stay-at-home-mom sewing diapers and pads in her rare spare moments, or the teacher trying to supplement her income, is slim. Confiscating $4,000 a year from them is enough to put many of them out of business, which hurts women, their families, and their occasional employees. Sometimes, these moms outsource design work.
Let’s Stamp Out Women-Owned Businesses
Now, there is no accusation that actual reusable menstrual pads are unsafe. And, just to be clear, cloth menstrual pads are usually made of an outer layer of waterproof fabric, such a PUL (polyurethane laminate), an inner absorbent layer, and a layer of soft, wicking fabric on top, much like certain types of cloth diapers. The fabrics are available off the shelf in any fabric store. So, why then, does the federal government feel the need to regulate this cloth and not the cloth in cloth diapers—which are often made by the very same women making and selling menstrual pads?
For decades, women have fought to be on a level playing field with men, and heard asinine rhetoric from the Left about the “war on women,” yet occasions like this, of The Man stamping out the livelihoods of a fully female cottage industry, pass without comment. And apparently the feds are free to assert that women’s monthly bodily emissions are a disease? If women’s bodily emissions are so concerning to the FDA, perhaps men should be next. After all, tighty-whiteys have long been suspected (without proof) of affecting the “structure and function” of a man’s body (i.e., his sperm count). Look out, men. Once the feds get their hands in your pants, they might never let go.