Gloria Steinem Will Give KeyNote at Personal Pac’s 2016 Awards Luncheon
The Need To Be An Informed Voter
By Stacey Crawley
Imagine that you are a young couple living in the Midwest. You earn just enough money to make ends meet, while taking care of your mother-in-law and son. You both work long, hard hours and your life is decent – for now. It’s the middle of March, the weather cold and gray. Your wife, starting to feel queasy on a regular basis, realizes that she might be pregnant. Although she loves her son and having a family, she knows that taking care of another child would be impossible. They barely make rent, the cost of medications for her son’s asthma are skyrocketing, and her boss warned her twice this week about not taking any more time off.
She confirms her suspicions with a positive result on 3 different pregnancy tests. The young couple agree that they cannot possibly afford another child, but they are 300 miles from the nearest abortion clinic, and if she takes any more time off from work she’ll lose her job.
If she manages to get to the clinic, she’ll walk through a gauntlet of pro-life advocates that have gathered outside of the facility to harass and shame the patients. Following the verbal persecution, when she finally makes it inside the clinic, the doctor will hand her pamphlets that distort the truth through pro-life propaganda – all legal, all required. Then she’ll wait another 72 hours before she can have the procedure done, giving her a few days to stress out with questions like, “where will I sleep?” “How will I find another job when I get back?”
Or, perhaps you’re walking to your car one evening and you’re attacked, then sexually assaulted. You go to the police, they follow procedure and process a rape kit. You’re told to get an AIDS test. You are afraid, ashamed, alone and broke. You work at Walmart – the only game in town. You don’t have the ability to save money from your minimum wage job because everything goes toward living expenses. You may also be pregnant from the criminal who raped you, and you live in Wisconsin. Or Michigan. Or Iowa. Or Missouri. Or Indiana. Or Kentucky. Each of these states have a mandatory 72-hour waiting period before you can terminate the pregnancy – as if the harassment outside the clinic, misinformation when you walk in, and forced ultrasound wasn’t enough. To top off, you’ve got the next 3 days to figure where you’re going to get your next meal.
This folks, is a reality in 2016. If the landmark case of Roe V. Wade is ever overturned, the legislatures in 40 states would immediately pass laws to criminalize nearly all abortions. Whether the pregnancy happened by accident or assault, if a woman decided to have an abortion she would go to jail, although jail would be a better alternative than say, death – something that occurred daily in the “Septic OB” ward of Cook County Hospital in 1948, when abortions were illegal, and women were hurt seeking self-induced or ‘criminal’ abortions. Women lucky enough to live through such “procedures” were often left in comas, had raging fevers, perforated uteruses, abbesses, hysterectomies or became infertile. It was often said to young doctors, “if they could survive the Septic, they could survive anything.”
So, how do we protect women and their right to choose, so places like ‘the septic’ stay permanently closed? That’s where organizations like Personal Pac come in. Terry Cosgrove, the President and CEO, describes it as “a single issue, pro-choice organization, that’s dedicated to electing candidates to state office – primarily the Illinois General Assembly, local offices in Cook County, and statewide officials who believe that decisions about birth control, abortion, etc. should be private ones between a woman and her doctor, and the state shouldn’t be getting involved”. Because of the efforts of organizations like Personal Pac, Illinois doesn’t have many of the restrictions that the surrounding states have passed. Illinois even has contraception equity, which you think would be a great way to prevent anyone needing an abortion – but as Terry said, “the far right won’t even consider doing that.”
Which is why we need people like Judy Gold, Mellissa Gilliam and the Honorable Julie Hamos. These women are pioneers in leading the movement to protect women’s right to choose. They are all honorees at this year’s 2016 Personal Pac Awards Luncheon, where another pioneer – Gloria Steinem- will be their keynote speaker. She spoke at their first awards ceremony 22 years ago and, of course, the organization is thrilled to have her back. As Terry explains, “So much has changed since then. Hundreds of new abortion and birth control restrictions have been imposed and people need to know that it’s happening to women all over the country. And in every other First World country, it’s not labeled ‘women’s health.’ It’s just ‘health.’”
A point that should be well-taken, but our elected officials are still labeling it “women’s health,” so that they can use it as an issue for political gain. Which is why it’s so important to vote, not only on the federal level, but on the local level as well. It’s what will help us continue to move forward, instead of regressing back to the archaic methods that killed, maimed and severely wounded thousands of women. If we’re not careful, if we stand on the sidelines, the reality is that women could lose their right to choose what they do with their own bodies. So, if you are in a position to help, donate your time or fund organizations like Personal Pac, so that our daughters, sisters, friends and mothers will have representatives that will have their health and safety in mind when voting on these crucial issues.
For more information on Personal Pac visit www.personalpac.org
Personal PAC is a non-partisan political action committee ( PAC ) dedicated to electing pro-choice candidates to state and local offices in Illinois. The Annual Awards Luncheon will be held at 12:00pm on Thursday, October 13th at the Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan Avenue. Personal PAC’s luncheon is attended by over 1,000 supporters, including over 100 elected officials and candidates from across the state.
Personal PAC identifies tens of thousands of pro-choice voters, professionally develops direct mail campaigns to educate and motivate pro-choice voters, initiates an Election Day get-out-the-vote program, and assembles campaign strategists to provide pro-choice candidates with the tools to win on Election Day. Further questions regarding Personal PAC’s political strategy can be directed to Terry Cosgrove, President & CEO, at 312-422-0005.