Halle Berry joins senators to announce menopause legislation

May 2, 2024
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Washington — Actor Halle Berry joined a group of bipartisan senators on Thursday to announce new legislation to promote menopause research, training and education.

“I’m here because I’m standing up for myself. Because I know that when a woman stands up for herself, she stands up for all women,” Berry said. “And all women go through menopause.”

The bill, called the Advancing Menopause Care and Mid-Life Women’s Health Act, is sponsored by a group of women including Sens. Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat; Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican; Tammy Baldwin, Democrat of Wisconsin; Susan Collins, a Maine Republican; Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat; and Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia. It would devote tens of millions of dollars to menopause research, to raise public awareness and to train health care providers.

“Menopause is not a bad word. It’s not something to be ashamed of. And it is not something Congress or the federal government should ignore,” Murray said. “There is no excuse for shortchanging this issue when it comes to federal dollars.”

Murray said when she came to Congress, issues like childcare, paid leave, workplace harassment and women’s health were “an afterthought at best.” But she said the country has come a long way with women’s representation in Congress and attention to the issues. 

“There are still so many ways women’s needs are ignored, overlooked, or stigmatized — and menopause is a great example,” Murray said. “For too long, menopause has been overlooked, under-invested in and left behind.”

Berry told reporters that her own doctor even refused to say the word “menopause” to her. 

“I said to him, ‘You know why I’m having this issue, right?’ And he says, ‘Yes, I know.'” She said when she asked him why, he responded, “‘You tell me why you’re having the issue.'” After going back and forth, “I finally realized he wasn’t going to say it,” Berry said. “So I thought, ‘OK, I’m going to have to do what no man can do: I have to say it. I said, ‘I’m in menopause!'” 

The legislation’s path forward in Congress remains unclear. But Murray said the goal at present is to get as many cosponsors as possible before bringing the bill to Senate leadership. And the bipartisan showing on Thursday, along with the injection of celebrity, suggested that it could see further supper in the upper chamber. 

Murkowski said the effort gained steam after a meeting with Berry at the Capitol last year, where the Alaska senator described a moment when “you just kind of stop and say, ‘Why not — why haven’t we focused on menopause?'”

“Why has it become this issue that seems to be a little taboo?” Murkowski said. “Why have we not allowed ourselves to really look at the full life spectrum of women?”

Berry, who’s been forthcoming about her own experience with menopause, advocated for the “shame” being taken out of menopause. 

“It has to be destigmatized,” she said. “We have to talk about this very normal part of our life that happens.”





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