Sheryl Sandberg Donates $3 Million to the ACLU for Abortion

Sheryl Sandberg Donates $3 Million to the ACLU for Abortion

Sheryl Sandberg, who once argued with the American Civil Liberties Union, is now one of his biggest beneficiaries.

Sheryl Sandberg, who once argued with the American Civil Liberties Union, is now one of its biggest beneficiaries, providing a $3 million grant to advance her political activities around abortion access.

The gift from the former COO of Meta Platforms Inc. , which will be announced on Tuesday, is one of the largest abortion rights grants the 102-year-old nonprofit has received, according to its longtime CEO Anthony Romero. He said the money would give the political arm of the ACLU a “running start” against the state’s anti-abortion efforts spurred by the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June.

Abortion rights are rising to be one of the top concerns of Democratic voters in the midterms. The case drives Democrats’ hopes of holding on to Congress, but it reverberates domestically.

“The work in the next two years is going to be all state and local,” Romero said in an interview. “It’s all about state Supreme Court justices and attorneys general. It’s about attorneys general and attorneys general, because they now have 14 states where abortion is unavailable and criminal.”

Sandberg, 53, with a net worth estimated by Bloomberg of $2.1 billion, has three teenage daughters. She said she was keen to support the ACLU’s work as it struggles to protect abortion at the ballot box because to her it was “incomprehensible” that her daughters would grow up with fewer rights than they once had.

“This is going to require hard political money,” Sandberg said in an interview with Zoom from California last week, which Romero joined. “I have a long and deep respect for Anthony and the ACLU team.”

Sandberg got to know Romero when she was on the ACLU’s side. The organization sued Facebook in 2018 over allegations of age, gender and race discrimination in the targeting features of its paid advertising products. Sandberg, who helped turn the social network into a tyrannical force, worked closely with Romero and reached a sweeping 2019 settlement that, in her view, changed Facebook’s practices for the better.

Her grant, which spans three years for the ACLU political process, is not tax-deductible, unlike donations to the ACLU, which focuses on nonpartisan litigation. Although Sandberg’s donation will not be repeated at present, it is part of many of her donations to various abortion causes, she said, declining to name those organizations.

Abortion care has been severely restricted in 17 states since the Supreme Court ruling went into effect, including 13 total bans, three partial bans, and one state — Wisconsin — where providers have halted the procedure due to uncertainty in the law. Other states are lobbying to pass the ban, and some federal politicians such as Senator Lindsey Graham have called for a national ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Sandberg is chaired by the Sheryl Sandberg and Dave Goldberg Family Foundation, and bears her name and that of her late husband. She runs initiatives to advocate for the inclusion of women in the workplace and for those facing adversity such as LeanIn.Org and OptionB.Org. It also has an educational scholarship program named after Goldberg.

Sandberg has donated in the past to Planned Parenthood, which provides abortion and reproductive health services, but the gift to the ACLU is her first for any organization since she was left dead.

Donations to the ACLU, which has 1.4 million members, jumped after the 2016 election of former President Donald Trump, whose administration the organization has sued dozens of times. The organization got another boost around 2020, amid racial conflict in the United States after the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police.

“The ACLU has been a reliable and enduring force for good in this country for decades, especially during these many turbulent years,” said one monthly donor, Caitlin Carlson, a New York-based film, television, and theater actor. “When some new vicious Republican savage rears its ugly head, it looks like the ACLU is there to at least try to hit it off.”

polling races

Romero said the ACLU will use political money to fight legislative battles over abortion, mobilize voters around low races and educate them about candidates’ views on reproductive rights. There is also a new focus on state judicial candidates who are often mysteries to members of the public, he said.

“In some states, you don’t even know which party they belong to,” Romero said, referring to the judges. “A little money goes a long way” in such races because local advertising is cheaper, and the winners have a lot of power, he said.

Deborah Archer, the ACLU’s first black president, said the looming fight for abortion rights fits with other group initiatives given the disproportionate impact on minority groups when reproductive rights are trampled on, but she would not draw attention from these issues.

We will not stop doing immigration work. We will not stop working on freedom of expression. “We will not stop doing the work of racial justice,” she said.

The ACLU has long been criticized by conservative groups who have complained about its influence in court. The America First Legal Foundation, founded by several former Trump administration officials, took a page from the ACLU’s book and inspired the Biden administration with lawsuits challenging policies the group considers liberal.

“America First Legal is the ACLU’s long-awaited answer,” former Trump adviser Stephen Miller was quoted as saying on the AFL website. “We are committed to the unwavering defense of true equality under the law, national borders and sovereignty, freedom of speech and religion, classical values ​​and virtues, the sanctity of life and the centrality of the family, and our timeless legal and constitutional heritage.”

In August, the ACLU encouraged voter overwhelming rejection of Kansas’ efforts to allow new restrictions on abortion. This was the first opportunity voters had to think about abortion rights after Roe was overturned. The ACLU spent nearly $500,000 to fight the proposal, and the result surprised conservatives.

Next is Michigan, where the ACLU spent at least $6 million to help collect hundreds of thousands of signatures for a November ballot measure that would amend the state constitution to enshrine the right to abortion. The American Civil Liberties Union, in partnership with Planned Parenthood, began the process months before the draft Supreme Court ruling was made public.

Lauren Khogaly, executive director of the nonprofit Michigan Chapter: “We’ve taken a collective leap of faith that whatever comes out of the Supreme Court will not be good, and will be a threat to reproductive freedom in Michigan.” He said in an interview.

The ballot initiative effort was fraught with Dobbs’ judgment. Khojaly described arriving at a café to collect signatures after the decision was leaked and found a line of people waiting around the building, some of whom had registered to vote for the first time so they could add their names.

The ACLU supports a similar initiative in Vermont, and is fighting an anti-abortion proposal in Kentucky, where abortion is now illegal.

The organization is also hiring a new team of criminal defense attorneys to represent women or health care providers who may be accused of seeking or performing an abortion.

Romero said he hopes Sandberg’s donation will encourage other high net worth individuals to do the same.

“I am sure that Sheryl Sandberg’s willingness to engage with this cause personally and directly will encourage and encourage – and motivate – two other peers in philanthropy,” Romero said.

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