Menstruation and the Bar Exam: Unconstitutional Tampon Bans

12 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2020 Last revised: 11 Nov 2021

Date Written: November 11, 2020


Some states have policies that prevent bar exam candidates from bringing their own menstrual products to the test. Via social media, awareness of these policies achieved new heights in the weeks leading up to the July 2020 bar exam. While states adopted different approaches to administering the bar exam during the COVID-19 pandemic, a small number of jurisdictions responded to public criticism by permitting test-takers to bring menstrual products with them to exams. Not all states have adopted permissive policies, however. This essay explains why outright bans on menstrual products at the bar exam likely are unconstitutional. So-called alternate policies, such as making menstrual products available in women’s restrooms, are inadequate. Only a “free-carry” policy for menstrual products is consistent with welcoming all qualified candidates to the legal profession, without regard to biology.

Keywords: menstruation, bar exam, law school, tampon, constitutional

JEL Classification: K1

Suggested Citation

Crawford, Bridget J., Menstruation and the Bar Exam: Unconstitutional Tampon Bans (November 11, 2020). 41 Columbia Journal of Gender and Law 63 (2021), Available at SSRN: or

Bridget J. Crawford (Contact Author)

Pace University School of Law ( email )

78 North Broadway
White Plains, NY 10603
United States

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