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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01



Personal PAC holds virtual annual awards luncheon
by Carrie Maxwell

This article shared 952 times since Mon Oct 25, 2021
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Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock was the keynote speaker at Personal PAC's 28th annual awards luncheon Oct. 20. The event was held virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Personal PAC's vision, according to its website, is that "every woman in Illinois should have equal access to safe and affordable reproductive healthcare, including contraception and abortion, without government interference or restrictions."

The nonpartisan organization does this by increasing the number of pro-choice candidates in elected office across all levels of government in Illinois.

Warnock received NARAL and Planned Parenthood Action Fund endorsements for his 2020 and 2022 U.S. Senate races. He spoke about the need to follow Illinois' lead and protect reproductive rights nationwide—and how that is only possible if he wins his election next November. Warnock also addressed all the progress that has been made and that it could be erased if the Senate has a Republican majority.

The Lifetime Achievement Award went to award-winning television writer/producer, human rights activist and People For The American Way founder Norman Lear. Former Illinois state Sen. Heather Steans received the Irving B. Harris Spirit of Choice Award while the Pro-Choice Leadership Award went to former Illinois state Rep. and House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie as well as Planned Parenthood Illinois Action Board Chair and Instacart Public Policy Manager Kelley Foxx.

The event opened with a video showing the current state of abortion rights in the United States that could result in the overturning of Roe v. Wade in the near future. It also pointed out how Personal PAC has helped make Illinois into one of the most pro-reproductive rights states in the nation and the importance of voting for candidates that will uphold these already passed state laws.

Personal PAC Board Member Barbara Bluhm-Kaul presented Lear with his award. Ahead of the presentation, an archival video was shown of Lear talking about the Maude episodes where the title character had an abortion. These episodes aired before Roe v. Wade was decided at the United States Supreme Court.

Lear spoke about the work he did with Bluhm-Kaul at People For The American Way and how honored he was to receive this award.

Illinois state Rep. Delia Ramirez presented Steans and Flynn Currie with their awards. Ramirez asked Steans about her work on House Bill 40 and Illinois' Reproductive Health Act and why those two laws are so important. Steans said that it was vital for her that women have control over their own destinies.

Ramirez also asked both women how they feel today versus 30 years ago. Flynn Currie said that it is better today in Illinois and New York but worse in Texas and Mississippi and called on young people to demand that laws are passed to protect women's reproductive access nationwide. Steans said that in many parts of the world they are actually advancing reproductive access including Mexico, Argentina, Thailand, New Zealand and Ireland while the United States is going backward. They both said that young people give them hope for the future despite what is happening now.

Men4Choice Co-Founder and Personal PAC Board Member Oren Jacobson presented Foxx with his award via a Zoom chat. Jacobson asked Foxx how he got involved and he said it was through his wife, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx. They spoke about the importance of doing this work as cisgender male allies.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker spoke about supporting reproductive rights for his entire adult life including participating in protest marches in Washington D.C. and across Illinois.

"I am so proud that during my time as governor we have made Illinois a beacon for reproductive rights, not only in the Midwest, but around the country," said Pritzker. "In 2019, I was honored to sign the Reproductive Health Act into law to ensure that, no matter what happens at the federal level here in Illinois, women will always have the right to make their own healthcare decisions. I will never stop fighting for women's reproductive rights and I could not ask for a better ally in this work than Personal PAC."

Pritzker spoke about the recent spate of anti-abortion laws in Texas and other states and said Personal PAC's work is more vital now than ever.

Personal PAC Board Chair Eileen Dordek echoed Pritzker's call to action and spoke about the awardees. She added that it has been sad for her to see the dire predictions she warned about during last year's event come true. Dordek said that the opposition is also looking at restricting birth control and infertility treatments that will affect vulnerable populations including the youth, LGBTQ community, people with low-income, those who live in rural areas and immigrants.

Dordek also said it is important for Illinois legislators to repeal the parental notification law. This will happen, Dordek said, when they pass the Young Women's Safety Act and urged everyone to call their state legislators and ask them to vote yes on this bill.

Personal PAC President and CEO Terry Cosgrove said that the 2022 election in Illinois is the most important one the state has had in 50 years. He called on everyone to focus on helping young women traveling from Texas to get seek an abortion but some cannot because of Illinois parental notification law and winning two Illinois Supreme Court seats otherwise the makeup of that court will look similar to the United States Supreme Court. Cosgrove added that a conservative leaning Illinois Supreme Court could overturn abortion access and other reproductive rights as well as many other progressive laws in the state.

Illinois House Speaker Rep. Emanuel "Chris" Welch, Illinois state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, Illinois state Sen. Sara Feigenholtz and Personal PAC board members Melissa Widen, Randi Wine, Bernadette Chopra, Jerry Newton and Dr. Sobia Ansari also spoke.

Texas high school valedictorian Paxton Smith's graduation speech and a Now This video featuring first-ever national youth poet laureate and activist Amanda Gorman, both of whom spoke about reproductive rights, were also shown.

This article shared 952 times since Mon Oct 25, 2021
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