Halle Berry visits Capitol Hill to fight for women’s health

Halle Berry (Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

by Ashleigh Fields, The Washington Informer

Halle Berry, the first Black woman to win the Academy Award for Best Actress, recently visited Capitol Hill to advocate for women’s rights, particularly to raise awareness about menopause.

“I’m standing up for myself. Because I know that when a woman stands up for herself she stands up for all women. And all women go through menopause,” Berry, a 57-year-old mother of two, said.

Berry shared that menopause, when a woman’s ovaries stop producing eggs and releasing the necessary hormones for fertility, is one of the most unrecognized and understudied issues for women.

“Society has told us when we get to be old we should just sort of putter away, we should fall off into obscurity and that our issues don’t matter. Well that’s just not true,” she continued.

The Academy Award-winning actress stood alongside Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) as they introduced the Advancing Menopause and Midlife Women’s Health Care Act.

If passed, the legislation would garner an unprecedented $275 million toward research, care and acute treatment for menopause. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) would receive $25 million annually for five years to increase data collection and review chronic symptoms associated with the transitional period in a woman’s life.

Berry shared a personal testimony about her own experience with a male doctor who refused to say the word “menopause” when addressing her health concerns.

“It is well past time to stop treating menopause like some kind of secret and start treating it like the major, mainstream public health issue it is,” Murray said at the May 2 press conference.

Nearly 1 in 3 women between 45 and 54 have been misdiagnosed with another condition by a healthcare provider before finding out it was actually menopause causing their symptoms according to a recent poll.

In hopes of spurring earlier detection, the bill proposes $10 million in annual grants for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and funds the creation of a public awareness campaign to address widespread misinformation relating to perimenopause and menopause.

“Menopause is a reality in every woman’s life, yet it is astonishing how little research has been done to address the multitude of symptoms and treatments,” Murkowski said, emphasizing that health research must be inclusive of women’s bodies across the full spectrum of life.

The bill is stacked with bipartisan support through a roster completely comprised of women. So far, 17 senators — three Republicans, 13 Democrats and one independent — are backing efforts to promote more clinical trials and additional research on the subject.

This article originally appeared in The Washington Informer

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