Facebook executive and Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg broke her silence Thursday, weighing in on President Trump’s reinstatement of a Reagan-era policy banning U.S. foreign aid to health providers overseas who offer abortion counseling or advocate for a woman’s right to have an abortion.
In a Facebook post, Sandberg said the policy could have “terrible consequences for women and families around the world,” cutting them off from other health services. She shared an article from the New York Times and said she supports passage of Global Health, Empowerment and Rights (HER) Act.
“I started my career working at the World Bank on health care in India. I saw firsthand how clinics funded by foreign aid are often the only source of health care for women. When women are given even the most basic health care information and services, they live longer, healthier lives — and they give birth to children who live longer, healthier lives,” Sandberg wrote.
“Comprehensive family planning helps prevent unintended pregnancies, deaths and abortions. This week’s executive order reinstating the global gag rule will make that work much harder. It bans health organizations around the world from providing counseling on all family planning options. If they refuse to abide by the ban, they could lose millions in funding from the United States. And this ban is harsher and broader than past orders by past presidents, because it covers every program that falls under global health assistance. That means it’ll hurt more people.”
The Facebook post marked the first time since the presidential election that Sandberg, a champion of women’s issues, has spoken out on the policies of the new administration.
Right after the election, Sandberg said it was historic for women. “For the first time in our country’s history, a woman was the nominee of a major party, and over 59 million Americans voted to put Hillary Clinton in the highest office in the land. Even though we fell short, that should make us all proud,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “We have real challenges to face as a country. The only answer I’ve ever known to facing any challenge is to work harder. Today we pledge as Americans to keep working for a better future for everyone. Today we recommit ourselves to leaning in.”
But some wondered why Sandberg had not acknowledged last weekend’s women’s marches.
“Since November, I’ve heard one phrase uttered over and over by senior women in the valley: ‘Why isn’t Sheryl saying anything about this?'” Pando’s Sarah Lacy wrote on Thursday.
The latest speculation in Washington: That Sandberg may be eyeing a run for president. A source told RealClear Politics that it’s “common knowledge” in Democratic Party circles that Sandberg is considering it. Sandberg was a political appointee to the Treasury Department in the Clinton administration and a leading contender to serve as Treasury secretary in a Hillary Clinton administration and she is a major Democratic donor.
Of course, plenty of people were convinced that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was eyeing a presidential run in 2020. He denied the speculation this week.
One thing we know with far more certainty are Sandberg’s shorter-term plans (besides helping Zuckerberg run Facebook). Sandberg is planning to embark on a book tour this spring. Her upcoming book, Option B, explores grieving and healing. Sandberg’s husband, Dave Goldberg, died suddenly last year. The book tour kicks off in New York City on April 23.