Brett was not Chicago NOW President during Obama's present votes.
Statement of Bonnie Grabenhofer, IL NOW State President
Much has been printed in both the mainstream and alternative media and many have watched videos of Lorna Brett’s comments on important votes that occurred while Barack Obama was serving in the Illinois State Senate (see article below). Ms. Brett continues to present herself as the President of Chicago NOW when IL State Senator Barack Obama was making decisions on votes that were critical for women and girls in Illinois. As the current Illinois NOW State President, it is essential that I clarify for the record that Ms. Brett’s assertions are not correct. Lorna Brett was president of Chicago NOW from 1996-1998. She was not, as she represents, the president of Chicago NOW at the time IL NOW activists were meeting and talking with legislators about the abortion bills in the early 2000s.
Five of those votes occurred in the 92nd General Assembly session in 2001. Our records indicate that Ms. Brett has not been a member of NOW since 1999. Ms. Brett was not involved with either Chicago NOW or IL NOW when we were fighting to stop these bills. Ms. Brett is misleading people and using her very old affiliation with NOW to help distance Senator Obama from his vote of present on key bills and as a platform for her personal criticism of Senator Hillary Clinton.
To be clear, voting “present” on those bills was a strategy that IL NOW did not support. At that time, we made it clear to the legislators that we disagreed with the strategy. We wanted legislators to take a stand against the harmful anti-choice bills being brought to the floor of the Illinois State Senate. Voting “present” does not demonstrate leadership and does not send the clarion signal that one is unwavering in their support of a woman's right to choose. IL NOW knew that those bills were unacceptable to women. Except for these present votes, Senator Obama’s record on choice has been excellent, but he has not taken leadership on the issue at the same level that Hillary has.
Ms. Brett asserts that the strategy to vote “present” was devised to give political cover to legislators in conservative districts. State Senator Barack Obama did not represent a conservative district and he could have voted “no” with little negative consequence in his district.