The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is issuing an apology for a heavily edited Tweet that quoted the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on abortion and women’s equality but erased “women,” replacing the gendered term with “person.”
“With Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, we lost a champion for abortion and gender equality. And on the anniversary of her death, the fight to protect abortion access is more urgent than ever,” the tweet said, referencing a quote from the late Justice’s confirmation hearings.
But while the tweet specifically referenced abortion in relation to “women’s rights,” the gender activists edited Ginsburg’s quotes to avoid any reference to a specific gender, instead referring to “women” as “person,” in line with the group’s position on transgender issues.
With Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, we lost a champion for abortion and gender equality. And on the anniversary of her death, the fight to protect abortion access is more urgent than ever. pic.twitter.com/vIKadIHouN
— ACLU (@ACLU) September 18, 2021
“The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a [person’s] life, to [their] well-being and dignity…When the government controls that decision for [people], [they are] being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for [their] own choices,” the quote read.
The original quote used “women’s,” and the female-oriented pronoun, “her” — references no longer acceptable.
Although the progressive left should have been delighted, it turned out the late Justice receives something of a blanket forgiveness for her regressive approach to gender, and the ACLU faced a severe blowback, leading to Monday’s apology.
“The A.C.L.U. tweet, which was sent out Sept. 18, changed Justice Ginsburg’s words, replacing each of her references to women with ‘person,’ ‘people’ or a plural pronoun in brackets. Justice Ginsburg, who died last year, is a revered figure in liberal and feminist circles and directed the A.C.L.U.’s Women’s Rights Project from its founding in 1972 until she became a federal judge in 1980,” The New York Times noted.
“We won’t be altering people’s quotes,” Anthony Romero, the group’s executive director told the outlet. “It was a mistake among the digital team. Changing quotes is not something we ever did.”
Romero did try to explain himself — and the erasure of pregnant women — by telling the Times, “There are people who are pregnant and who seek abortions…who do not identify as women.”
“My colleagues do a fantastic job of trying to understand a reality that people who seek abortions are not only women,” he added. “That reality exists.”
“In today’s America,” Romero continued, “language sometimes needs to be rethought.”
Justice Ginsburg, though, Romero added, will be exempt from “rethinking” going forward, at least as far as her quotes are concerned. He then suggested that Ginsburg would agree with him and would “encourage” the ACLU to “evolve” its thought on the matter
The ACLU, Romero said, will look for more sensitive ways to try to press the idea that women are not the only ones who get pregnant and seek abortions — a statement in line with progressive thought on the subject.
Feminist author Michelle Goldberg, though, suggested that the ACLU may have to re-examine their approach, particularly given that Ginsburg was a feminist, and erasing a women’s role in reproduction has a deleterious effect.
“It’s somewhat Orwellian to rewrite historical utterances to conform to modern sensitivities,” Goldberg said. “Changing Ginsburg’s words treats what was once a core feminist insight — that women are oppressed on the basis of their reproductive capacity — as an embarrassing anachronism.”
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