David Axelrod reads official statement from President Obama praising Dawn Clark Netsch, honoree of the evening.
While the Planned Parenthood celebration at Carnivale restaurant Wednesday was to commemorate 40 years of Roe v. Wade, much of the rhetoric focused on the recent presidential election and progress on women’s reproductive health.
A packed house brimmed with Democratic stars, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s long-time adviser David Axelrod and honoree of the evening Dawn Clark Netsch. All spoke on the recent strides made in women’s health, despite opposition from conservative politicians, and credited Planned Parenthood supporters who showed up at the polls.
“It’s been a very interesting two years, quite a wild ride,” said Laura Tucker, board member for Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “We’ve won the battle, but the war is not over. Luckily President Obama has been with us every step of the way.”
Joking to the crowd that anti-Planned Parenthood politicians had suffered “legitimate defeat,” Carole Brite, CEO of Planned Parenthood Illinois, spoke about a recent encounter at a Planned Parenthood facility that reinforced the cause for her.
“Just last month a patient came in who had tried to get an abortion in a different state, but they wouldn’t do it for her,” Brite said. “So her and her mom took an Amtrak train to an Illinois clinic. Before the procedure was performed, we tested her for septic shock. I think we possibly saved this 15-year-old girl’s life.”
Keynote speaker David Axelrod, senior political adviser to President Clinton and President Obama, said it was the anti-Planned Parenthood rhetoric that helped Obama secure a second term.
“I remember very clearly those interviews with Mitt Romney where he said he would end funding to Planned Parenthood,” Axelrod said. “And I think there is a very good argument to be made that in that one callous statement he did a lot to end his own political career.
“The coalition of people who support Planned Parenthood was essential to our victory,” Axelrod continued.
While a group of pro-life advocates did picket the front entrance of Carnivale as guests arrived, the restaurant at 702 W. Fulton Market received few complaints prior to the event, said Ana Bora, marketing director for Carnivale.
Honoree of the evening, former Illinois Sen. Dawn Clark Netsch who was given the organization’s lifetime achievement award, also praised the current efforts by Planned Parenthood supporters to keep abortion safe and legal.
“What I can say to everyone in this room, young, old and in-between, is to keep doing what you are doing,” Netsch said. “You guys are the ones who should be getting the award. Maybe I should just turn around and give this award to you guys.”