Halle Berry makes push for $275M menopause research bill

May 2, 2024

Hollywood actress Halle Berry joined a bipartisan group of senators on Thursday to unveil legislation that would authorize $275 million to boost research, training and public awareness around menopause and mid-life women’s health issues.

Berry, who has been outspoken about her menopause-related misdiagnoses, spoke at a press conference outside the Capitol building and made an impassioned push for the legislation, called, “Advancing Menopause Care and Mid-Life Women’s Health Act.”

She thanked Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) for first meeting with her to discuss the issue and thanked Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) for joining Murray as co-lead of the bill, saying, “When that happened, I knew right away, ‘Oh my God. This is going to be a bipartisan movement.’”

“Because I can’t think of a topic that should not be politicized. I can’t think of an issue that’s more of a human rights issue than anything, so to have support from both sides of the aisle is really important for all women,” she continued.

“This is probably, I think, in our lifetime, ladies, one of the most important things that we’ll do for ourselves, and it’s really important that we all stand together and lock arms, and I am beyond honored to be here and be a part of this movement that’s happening.”

Berry said she views her activism around women’s mid-life health and menopause as the start of a new chapter in her life focused on helping women get the proper healthcare they need and on reducing the stigma around menopause.

“It’s not time for me to go out to pasture and lay down and die, that which our society would tell me it’s time for me to do. I want to start a brand new career,” Berry said, adding, “Making movies has been fine, and I’m proud of that. But I really want to, for this next act of my life, really give back in a way that’s substantial, that will be talked about long after I’m gone, but it will really make a difference in the life of every woman.”

The legislation comes amid increased scrutiny on lack of attention paid to menopause-related conditions. A recent survey revealed only 30 percent of U.S. residency programs offer a formal menopause curriculum, and 80 percent of OB/GYN residents said they were ill-prepared to discuss menopause with patients.

The bill would authorize, over five years, $125 million for National Institutes of Health (NIH) research grants; $50 million for public health promotion activities; $50 million to establish a national public health awareness and outreach program; and $50 million to improve professional training resources for health care providers.

It would also support the coordination between federal departments and agencies, direct the designation of Centers of Excellence in Menopause and Mid-Life Women’s Health, and require the Department of Health and Human Services to report to Congress on federal research activities related to menopause.

“For too long, menopause is something women have had to suffer through silently — like so many women’s health issues, menopause has been overlooked, underinvested in, and left behind,” Murray said in a statement.

She added the legislation would build on the Biden administration’s Women’s Health Research Initiative.

“Menopause is a significant part of every woman’s life — and despite how severe the symptoms can be, there’s been very little research on the subject,” Murkowski said in a statement.

The legislation was introduced by Murray, who chairs the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, and Murkowski, along with Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.).

It has the support from many other women in the Senate, including co-sponsors Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.).

Berry said she hopes all women in the Senate will stand together in support of the legislation.

“I’m here as a citizen of the United States, as a woman who is demanding that our government give us what we need because we deserve it,” she said. “We have been overlooked. We have been discarded for far too long. And I’m so grateful to have a team of powerful strong smart women who are saying enough is enough. Because guess what, it’s enough. It’s enough.”