On Nov. 4, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand spoke at the 20th Annual Awards Luncheon of Personal PAC, a bipartisan, pro-choice political action committee.
Gillibrand, who is known for her advocacy for sexual assault victims in the military, spoke about the importance of woman participating in politics,
"I am certainly guaranteeing you if we had 51 percent women in Congress we would not have spent the past two years debating access to birth control and reproductive health," she said to a crowd of more than a thousand at the Chicago Hilton.
"The way we make Washington work again is by electing woman," she said.
Before discussing her work and experiences addressing military sexual assault, Gillibrand spoke about the importance of adequate medical leave for women, women's place in the economy and the current legislative attacks on reproductive health at the state level.
Personal PAC President/CEO Terry Cosgrove reiterated Gillibrand's point about state-level policies, specifically citing restrictions put into place in Texas, and the legislative threats to reproductive rights in Illinois.
"The agenda they have for Illinois should frighten everyone in this room," he said, referring to candidates running for elected offices in Illinois who are opposed to pro-choice policies. "One election can change everything."
In July, the Supreme Court dismissed a 1995 court case that challenged a parental notification law, allowing the law to go into effect after nearly two decades.
Cosgrove told Windy City Times that parental notification, mandated transvaginal ultrasounds, and the shutting down of abortion facilities were the top three attacks on reproductive rights in Illinois.
Cosgrove also stressed how Personal PAC's work to elect pro-choice candidates often results in support for the LGBTQ community at the state-level.
"So many of the candidates we elect also support LGBTQ issues," he told Windy City Times.
Personal PAC also honored Bette Cerf Hill for her work founding the Young Women's Leadership Charter School of Chicago, and Laura Tucker, and Illinois and National Planned Parenthood board member.
In a speech that echoed much of the concern for state-restrictions, Hill stressed the importance of organizations like Personal PAC.
Tucker spoke of her time growing up in Evanston in the 60s and 70s, and of teaching her children a moral code to stand up for others.
"Do not underestimate the importance of talking to your kids about what you do," she said.
According to Cosgrove, Personal PAC is one of the largest political action committees in the state of Illinois.
Cosgrove said the luncheon raised more than $600,000 for the organization.