The executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union has apologized after the organization faced strong backlash for editing a quote from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to remove all references to “women” — the gender she dedicated her life to defending.
Many pointed out that the organization had, quite literally, erased women.
The criticism of the ACLU’s actions were not limited to the usual social media critics. The Boston Herald, New York Times, and New York Post were also among those publishing condemnation of the organization.
The ACLU quoted Ginsburg as saying, “the decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a [person’s] life, to [their] wellbeing 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.”
You have become the exact type of language-bending Orwellian institution you once opposed.
— Colin Moriarty (@notaxation) September 22, 2021
The quote is from Ginsburg’s written response to senators during her 1993 confirmation hearing.
What the late justice actually said was, “the decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her well-being and dignity. It is a decision she must make for herself. When Government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices.”
Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, told The New York Times that the absurd misquotation was the fault of someone on the social media team.
“We won’t be altering people’s quotes,” Romero said. “It was a mistake among the digital team. Changing quotes is not something we ever did.”
While Romero insists that it won’t happen again, he did defend the edits by saying that it was well-intentioned. He said that it “was not a mistake without a thought.”
“My colleagues do a fantastic job of trying to understand a reality that people who seek abortions are not only women,” he said. “That reality exists.”
Romero also claimed that Ginsburg would have encouraged them to alter her statement.
“Having spent time with Justice Ginsburg, I would like to believe that if she were alive today, she would encourage us to evolve our language to encompass a broader vision of gender, identity and sexuality,” Romero stated.
“In today’s America,’’ he concluded, “language sometimes needs to be rethought.”