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WOMEN+POWER 2023: Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg opened her next chapter as a full-time philanthropist with a donation to the American Civil Liberties Union to fight state abortion bans across the country.

Sandberg, who officially left her position as Facebook’s parent company Meta’s chief operating officer after 14 years, donated $3 million to the ACLU Ruth Bader Ginsburg Liberty Center. The ACLU plans to use the funds to support candidates and ballot measures for abortion rights, as well as defending pregnant women’s rights in state courts and legislatures over the next three years.

Sandberg told The Associated Press in an interview that it’s “unthinkable” that her three daughters have fewer rights over “their own health care, their own bodies, their own destinies” than she did. She wanted to immediately start working to change that.

“As I’m leaving Meta and looking at the next phase of my life and what I want to do and dedicate myself to, this is an issue that I think is absolutely fundamental to who we are as women who we are as a society,” Sandberg said. “The time is now. These state elections are now. And the next cycle is just two years away.”

Anthony D. Romero, ACLU executive director, said Sandberg’s donation is the largest ever given to the ACLU’s political arm for abortion rights. The funds will help support a shift in the organization’s abortion rights strategy back to state legislatures following the Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that found there is no constitutional right to an abortion.

“It will be decades before we can clean up this mess through litigation,” he said. “We’ll get back there. We will re-establish a fundamental right to an abortion at the federal level. There will be another case that overturns Dobbs. But that will take us decades.”

Sandberg partnered with the ACLU because she believes fighting for reproductive rights requires a political component following the Supreme Court’s overturning of the Roe v. Wade decision. The political donation was made by Sandberg personally and did not come from the Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation, which she says will remain the center of her philanthropic work. Political donations are not tax-deductible.

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