History | Personal PAC | Protecting Reproductive Rights in Illinois

A History of Stopping Dangerous, Illegal Abortions in Illinois

Since 1992, Personal PAC has turned back over 100-years of dangerous and misogynist laws.

For most of its history, Illinois was one of the strictest anti-choice states in America. Abortions were punished harshly, pushing women deeper and deeper into more dangerous situations. Personal PAC has fought against that, turning the tide and making Illinois a safe haven for women in the Midwest.

The Story of HB 40

Marcie Love was among the first to understand the importance of protecting abortion rights at the state level. On October 1, 1989, she opened the Personal PAC office, hired Terry Cosgrove, and began putting her heart and soul into saving the lives of an untold number of Illinois’ women and girls who would have otherwise suffered at the hands of anti-abortion legislators and Governors.

As Founding Chair, and now Chair Emerita, Marcie recognized, before the pundits and other leaders across the country, that the most serious battles against reproductive rights would take place in the 50 state legislatures.

Since 1989, one state after another has imposed horrendous restrictions on access to abortion, shut down hundreds of family planning clinics, and terrorized millions of women—mostly poor, young and rural women. To this day, no other state has its own “Personal PAC” focused solely on electing pro-choice candidates at the state level.

The 2010 elections were a turning point for reproductive rights in Illinois. With an increased attack on abortion rights on the federal level and severe loses in many states around the country, Illinois, with the help of Personal PAC, was one of the few states to re-elect its pro-choice Governor and a new, pro-choice Lt. Governor.

While the number of anti-choice state legislators elected elsewhere increased dramatically, the Illinois General Assembly remained stable. The election of a new pro-choice Cook County Board President and a majority of Cook County Commissioners who were committed to protecting abortion rights was a significant victory for reproductive rights in the largest Illinois county.

The 2012 elections were the most significant in over a decade. Under a newly drawn legislative map, EVERY House and Senate district was up for re-election in 2012. Anti-legal abortion candidates were geared up to run in these new districts across the entire state. Personal PAC’s biggest challenge leading up to the 2012 elections was to recruit and elect pro-choice candidates in a majority of these districts. Personal PAC raised and spent an unprecedented amount of money to elect the most pro-choice senate in Illinois history. The House of Representatives, while not solidly pro-choice, inched much closer in 2012 and added more pro-choice legislators in 2014 and 2016.

Personal PAC is committed to building the next generation of leaders who will continue the work of protecting and expanding reproductive rights in Illinois for ALL women into the next decade and beyond.

Personal PAC Annual Awards Luncheon

In 1994, Gloria Steinem was the featured speaker at Personal PAC’s first Annual Awards Luncheon, raising its visibility in Illinois and nationwide.  Jane Fonda has spoken at two of the organization’s luncheons and was presented with Personal PAC’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.

Other past speakers included:

  • Dr. Joycelyn Elders
  • Former U.S. Representative Patricia Schroeder
  • Molly Ivins
  • Kathleen Turner
  • Rita Moreno
  • Judy Collins
  • Olympia Dukakis
  • Alfre Woodard
  • Kathy Najimy
  • Cynthia Nixon
  • Sandra Bernhard
  • Meredith Baxter
  • Gloria Allred
  • U. S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
  • Ellen Burstyn
  • Joy Reid

Irving B. Harris Spirit of Choice Award

Personal PAC established the Irving B. Harris Spirit of Choice Award in 2005 to honor the commitment of the late Irving Harris to reproductive rights and Personal PAC during his lifetime.

Since its creation, the award has been given to the following champions of reproductive rights:

2005 – Harriet Meyer
2006 – Leo Smith
2007 – Marcie Love
2008 – Phyllis Glink
2009 – Dr. George Tiller
2010 – Hannah Rosenthal
2011 – Pam Sutherland
2012 – Marj Benton
2013 – Bette Cerf Hill
2014 – Anat Hoffman
2015 – Joint Action Committee (JAC)
2016 – Judy Gold
2017 – Tina Tchen
2018 – Men4Choice

A History Of Abortion Rights In Illinois

1867

Abortion is made illegal in Illinois from time of conception, the first such law on the books.

1920s and 30s

Medical advances make abortions safer, but lead to a more fierce crackdown.

1920’s-1960s

Police crack down on abortions with cruel measures, conducting raids and forcing abortion deeper underground, with deadly results and ruined lives. Learn More.

1971

Illinois abortion law ruled unconstitutional.

1973

Roe v Wade becomes the law of the land, creating legal abortion in every state. This protects women from dangerous illegal abortions, but also triggers a backlash in Illinois. Read more about the horrors of the Cook County septic abortion ward. 

1975

Illinois Abortion Law Introduces Trigger Language that will make abortion illegal as soon as Roe v. Wade is overturned.

1979

Healthcare funding for abortion can no longer be used for state employees, making it harder to find an affordable abortion.

1980

Abortions banned at Cook County hospitals. This is especially cruel for poor and minority women who rely on county hospitals.

1981

US Senate eliminates rape and incest exemptions on abortion bans, an act of almost immeasurable cruelty.

1989

Personal PAC founded.

1992

Emergency contraceptives are finally allowed to be used in state and county hospitals in rape cases.

Abortion services restored in Cook County hospitals.

2013

Gov. Quinn signs a groundbreaking law requiring all schools in the state that teach sex education to include accurate information about birth control and STDs.

2016

Groundbreaking birth control law passed ensuring that prescription birth control will be covered in insurance plans, defying right-wing activists stripping it from other women.

2016

Illinois Patients Right of Conscience law ensures patients will be informed about how medical treatments they want or need might conflict with doctors’ and hospitals’ religious beliefs and not rejected outright.

2017

HB40 Introduced, eliminating trigger language. After Gov Rauner threatened a veto, public pressure led by Personal PAC forced him to honor his initial pledge to sign.

Jan. 1 2018

HB 40 goes into effect.

We won’t let the misogynists win.

Help Us Keep Illinois the Safe Haven For Choice in the Midwest

For every step forward we take, the forces of reaction try to drag us three steps back. With your support, and your help, we’ll keep fighting against the relentless assault on women’s reproductive rights. Let’s keep making history, together.

Get Involved today