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 abortion 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.
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 our luncheons and was presented with our Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002. Other speakers have 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 and U. S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
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)
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. Our biggest challenge leading up to the 2012 elections was to recruit and elect pro-choice candidates in a majority of these districts. The math is simple: it takes 30 votes to pass a bill in the Senate and 60 votes in the House. We need in excess of these 30 and 60 votes to ensure that reproductive rights are accessible to every woman and family in Illinois. 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.
To capitalize on its recent successes and lay the ground work for expanding the organization, in 2013 Personal PAC, led by its Board of Directors, completed the Futures Plan. This five-year strategic plan set concrete electoral goals into the next decade and established a framework for building the next generation of leaders who will continue the work of protecting and expanding reproductive rights in Illinois for ALL women for many generations to come.