Legal Law

If You’re Menstruating Or Lactating Throughout The Bar Examination You’re Screwed

This isn’t a new issue. Above the Law wrote about bar examinees not being allowed to take their own menstrual products into test centers back in 2013. But, unfortunately, in 2020 it is still an issue and goddamn it, it still makes us mad.

Amid all the cancellation and postponements of the July 2020 bar exam, let’s not forget that a shocking number — 23! — of states intend to go forward with an in-person bar exam next week pandemic be damned. And of course the whole, they’re-trying-to-kill-us thing is a big deal but there’s another controversy about the gender-based microaggressions (frankly, I don’t think they’re micro, but, that’s me) in a number of states’ bar exam rules. Take a look at the Twitter hashtag #bloodybarpocalypse tracking the well-placed outrage over states that won’t let folks take their own menstruation products into the bar exam:

no ???????????? feminine products at the arizona bar exam
1. you have to trust they have the kind you need
2. & don’t run out in ~8 hours
3. & take one from a communal bowl, covid19 worst practices


also, no tissues?!

— alexandra j. roberts (@lexlanham) July 16, 2020

After that social media storm rained down on the Arizona bar, they changed course and will now allow this (admittedly minor) concession:

But don’t worry, there are still a bunch of other states that have these draconian anti-cheating (and anti-woman) measures, with no regard if it’s “her time of the attorney licensing process.”

Are you outraged yet? Well, you should be. And there’s a petition you should sign: Let Examinees Bring Menstrual Products into Bar Exams (sign by 6 p.m. eastern tonight for the greatest impact on this year’s bar exam).

But, wait! There’s more!

Women are also shit out of luck if they have the unmitigated gall to be nursing while taking the bar exam. In Oklahoma one applicant with a four month old child was told that she should do whatever she needs to regarding pumping in an open room with 300 other test takers.

I cannot believe that in 2020, women are literally fighting with state bar examiners about whether they can lactate or bring tampons to a professional licensing exam. I don’t know who needs to hear it, but women are in the legal profession, and we’re here to stay. #bradwellvIL

— Melissa Murray (@ProfMMurray) July 17, 2020

While another was told she would have to pump and store her milk while being monitored and within the pre-scheduled 15 minute breaks in some, as of yet undisclosed, location.


The profession frequently bellyaches over the lack of meaningful diversity, but without tackling these sorts of structural issues that clearly demonstrate a lack of consideration for folks that menstruate and breastfeed, well, nothing’s really going to change.

Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, and host of The Jabot podcast. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).

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