A tragedy that could have been avoided - Personal PAC

A tragedy that could have been avoided 

The critical upcoming 2022 Illinois election that our state is facing hits on a deeper note to State Representative candidate Gregg Johnson. Gregg lost his mother when he was just eight years old.

“Until a few weeks ago, when the draft leaked of the Supreme Court, I think I was always secure in the fact that no other eight-year-old boy was going to go through this. So, that was a gut punch.”

Gregg’s mother, Shirley Hunter Johnson, was single and pregnant with her fourth child when she passed away in 1972 due to a medical condition called severe preeclampsia. This condition made her pregnancy very risky to carry to term and because of the lack of abortion access in a pre-Roe v. Wade world, Shirley and her family suffered exponential consequences.

“I have zero memory of my mother…I was very close to my father til he passed in ’02. And for me, when I have difficult times, I can always hear my father’s voice kind of telling me it’s not gonna be that bad, it will be okay and never having that from my mother has always bothered me.”

The loss of his mother profoundly affected Gregg and his family. It’s even more upsetting knowing that this loss could have been prevented had legislation been different back then. Now, with anti-choice laws making their way back into our lives, it’s frightening to think this could be the case for many more families and women today – even here in Illinois.

“I’ve always been an activist for people. But, my first 38 years of my life, when I was searching for purpose, it was more that I just didn’t want people to turn out like I was, to be me. To be profoundly sad, to always have regrets. And I would say the last nearly 20 years, I’ve lived my best life ever and I’m in a much better place because I’ve found purpose. And I think now that I realize that what happened to my mother probably formed my social core and is why I’ve always been serving others.”

Gregg is running for State Representative in the 72nd district to fight to protect reproductive rights, stand up for others, and make sure nothing like what happened to him and his family can happen again. “I just would never want any child or any family to ever have to live through that nightmare.”

We urge everyone to educate themselves about the upcoming elections, to get out and vote for pro-choice candidates fighting for our reproductive freedom, and to ensure that we never go back to the way things were. We thank Gregg for his strength and perseverance while fighting for this cause.

  • To learn more about Gregg’s campaign for State Representative, visit his website here.
  • To view Personal PAC’s list of endorsed pro-choice candidates, visit our website here.
  • To get more involved in the fight against anti-choice extremists running for office in Illinois – like those who prevented Gregg’s mother from accessing the care she needed – join Jane’s Army today.
  • Finally, to support our work to keep Illinois 100% pro-choice, please consider making a donation.


Blog post written by Rachel Cain, Personal PAC intern.

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