Unified in the fight to control our bodies

Task Force Deputy Executive Director Darlene Nipper at the National Women’s Health Network event.

Task Force Deputy Executive Director Darlene Nipper was the featured speaker at the 5th Annual Barbara Seaman Awards for Activism in Women’s Health last night in Washington, D.C.

The gathering was organized by the National Women’s Health Network, which works to secure sexual and reproductive health and autonomy, and raise women’s voices for the health care they need. The event, named for NWHN founding member Barbara Seaman, honored Inca A. Mohamed and Aquene Freechild.

During her remarks, Darlene talked about the importance of standing in solidarity in the fight to control of our bodies:

We really are at a critical juncture in deciding how health care is going to be provided, how we are going to care for one another, what people deserve, whether our care should be decided by our pocketbook or by our need.

And how we move forward comes down to some very fundamental things — like our views on justice and fairness.

As a breast cancer survivor, I’m a walking, breathing pre-existing condition who is a daily reminder of the importance of the Affordable Care Act. And why at a time when some would roll back these recent advances, we need to stand firm.

In the LGBT movement — as in the women’s health, reproductive rights and justice movements — we know that we must all stand firm and must all stand together in this fight for control over our own bodies.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, women don’t have to pay more for their health care; we can’t be denied coverage and we can’t lose our coverage just for getting sick.

That’s not just progress, that’s life-changing progress… yet we know that devastating health inequities remain for many — especially women of color, lesbian, bisexual and transgender women.

Lesbian women are still more likely to have breast cancer because of lacking access to breast health screenings and lower incomes. African-American women have extremely high HIV-infection rates as compared to other women. And low-income pregnant women often lack adequate access to the health services they need.

And so, like Barbara Seaman, we need “to challenge those who need challenging,” because there should be no going back…AND, it’s the only way forward.

The Task Force is a strong and steadfast ally of the reproductive health movement. We believe ours is a shared struggle to choose whom we love, to create our families, and to live free of discrimination. We also believe our movements must travel together on the path to justice and equality, to human dignity, to a world where the lives of women and the lives of LGBT people are no longer under attack and systemically placed in harm’s way.