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Biden announces historic investment into women’s menopause health

President Joe Biden has signed a historic executive order that will channel major funds into women’s health, including research on menopause and mid-life health.

The president issued the order at a White House Women’s History Month event on Monday morning, where he was joined by First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and former first lady of California Maria Shriver.

The order allocates $12bn to and marks the “most comprehensive set” of executive action to improve research on women’s health, according to the White House.

However, this funding is not guaranteed. Given Congress has the “power of the purse,” lawmakers can move to deny the president his funding.

“So now that the President has done his job, we have to do ours,” Ms Shriver, a journalist, author and advocate for Alzheimer’s research, said at the event.

“We have to get Congress to approve the $12bn investment this president has called for to implement this bold vision.”

Senator Laphonza Butler, a Democrat from California, praised the order and told The Independent she’s unsure whether Congress will actually approve the funding.

“The leadership is there, at least on the Democratic side,” Ms Butler said. “The question is, can we actually come together as a Congress to see the value?”

Through this order, Mr Biden is calling for funds to foster research on menopause. The funds also enable the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to launch its first-ever “Pathways to Prevention” series on menopause.

Ms Shriver called the president’s order historic, particularly considering the focus on menopause.

“I’ll bet today that this is the first time a president of the United States has ever signed an executive order that mentions the words ‘menopause’ and ‘women’s mid-life health,’” Ms Shriver said at the event.

Further research on reproductive ageing is particularly important for racial health equity, given that women of colour in the US face disparities around reproductive health access compared to white women – due to both racial bias on an individual level and structural racism in the healthcare system. Black women in particular are more likely to enter mid-life with more adverse physical symptoms than white women.

“Black and Brown women are more likely to develop endometriosis and face pregnancy-related complications,” Ms Shriver said. “And we don't have the research to tell them what to do about it. This matters because when women ask questions, they can't get answers because the majority of the research that has been done in this country has only been done on men.”

Mr Biden’s order also goes beyond reproductive health, including funding research on mental health and substance use disorders, environmental health factors and autoimmune diseases that disproportionately affect women, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Just before signing the executive order, Mr Biden reiterated a call he has made many times before: “You send me a Democratic Congress that supports reproductive freedom, I promise you we will restore Roe v Wade again as the law of the land.”