Melinda Gates Says ‘No Controversy’ in Foundation’s Support for Contraception: Others do not Agree

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Melinda Gates

July 7, 2012; Source: Seattle Times

The Gates Foundation appears to be headed toward a major re-investment in birth control both financially and as a priority health policy concern. Following an April TED talk given by Melinda Gates (who is Catholic) observers knew that they could likely expect an increase in Gates activity in the area of contraception.

This week the Gates Foundation will combine with the British government to host a summit of world leaders aimed at taking up the issue of access. The intention of the summit is to raise $4 billion to make contraceptives available to 120 million women in poor countries, but religious leaders are already calling the gathering, a “blatant attack on morality.”

The foundation, which asserts that contraception is a health need cited repeatedly as critical by poor women themselves, and one that is correlated with many other indicators of community well being has established a website called to enlist support for access to contraception. It reads:

“Contraceptives are not controversial.

There is no controversy in empowering women to decide if and when to have a child.

Today, more than 200 million women and girls in developing countries who don’t want to get pregnant lack access to contraceptives…Access to contraceptives saves lives and leads to healthier, more prosperous families, communities and nations. Surely, there is no controversy in raising your voice for millions of women and girls who want access to lifesaving contraceptives.”

Surely there is no controversy? Or surely there should be no controversy? (It is an interesting question – in a head to head culture war battle between the influential Gates Foundation and the Catholic Church – who would/will win?)

The foundation, which had, on inception, declared birth control as one of its priority issues, later backed away temporarily, apparently because of the potential for becoming embroiled in controversy. Ms. Gates is now calling the redress of lack of access to contraception her “life’s work,” asserting that lack of access is a “crime,” and adding, “We made birth control and contraceptives way too political in the US. I think if people understood that 200 million women want this around the world they would start to say, ‘OK that makes sense.’”

We only wish it were so but having the Gates Foundation insisting upon a sensible point of view on the issue can’t hurt.—Ruth McCambridge

  • Kathy D

    I find the Roman Catholic Church’s cry of “a blantant attack on morality” to be laughable. Please remember that this is the organization which allowed the innocence of generations of boys and young men to be sacrified so it could product the predators who lurked within the Church’s own ranks like sharks on the edge of a bait ball. Shall we judge which is more immoral: protecting pedophiles, or allowing women to have safe, protected sex that will end up producing healthier babies?

    By the way, I am Roman Catholic.

  • Guest

    It is heartening to see so many new voices emerging to challenge the myth that the sexual revolution and contraception have been a good thing for society.

    Jennifer Fulwiler, “The Contraception Trap”:


    Mary Eberstadt, “Has the Sexual Revolution Been Good for Women? No.”:

    Lila Rose, “Battle hymn of the anti-abortion feminist:”

    Tom Hoopes, “The Truth About Natural Family Planning:”

    Mister H (yours truly), “Why the Catholic Church Opposes Contraception:”

    Janet Smith, with the classic “Contraception, Why not?”

  • Guest

    Must-read article: “Hey Melinda Gates, Poor Need Food Not Contraception”:

  • Rev Anil Landge

    Catholic Churches are thinking Safety of larger community for generation to generation where as Foundation are thinking in term of money and their short time goal for donor

  • Toronto Canada

    Melinda, you are an eloquent and heroic leader. Bravo!

  • LMorrell

    Thank you Melinda Gates! We need to stop the control of women’s bodies by a mainly male establishment. With facts and statistics to back you up, this is the correct, moral stand. Women who take control of their reproductive health can make better decisions for themselves, their families, and their communities.

  • Denise

    Kathy D hit the nail on the head.
    The Catholic Church is a wealthy money making machine. They have no room to cast morality judgement on anyone
    Woman need to have assistance in this area since abuse is painfully common. The first step to empowerment is control over our own bodies, and our minds. The Catholic church nor the Repulican party have any say in protecting ourselves or our children. How many children are saved misery and abuse by the simple act of using birth control.
    I am a Catholic, who believes in the life and words of Jesus.
    I also use to considerr myself a repulican until instead of believing in small government they decided to make judgements on women’s bodies and women’s rights.

    Thank God for Melinda. I pray she has ability to help the woman here at home as well.

  • Bob D.

    The Catholic Church has not changed its stance on birth control methods nor should they. The acceptable methods for birth control are abstinence and the rhythm methods. Both of these are extremely effective in reducing unwanted pregnancy. Of course that doesn’t fit for those who want to engage in recreational sex. There are lots of activities that are “fun” or “feel good”, but they are necessarily good for us. If the Gates Foundation really wanted to help solve the issue they could pour their $$$ into good education about the effects of indiscriminate sex which cause disease and unwanted pregnancy. I am not going to say my beliefs will get me into heaven, but as a member of the Catholic Church i think I should either follow their tenets or leave the Church if I believe differently.

  • ruth

    Ok – usually I try to stay out of this kind of conversation but, honestly Bob, the rythm method? I am a model of self discipline for not taking up the “feel good” issue in detail. I think recreation is great! Re-creation – get it?

  • EllenM

    Let’s not forget that the Catholic Church was also opposed to vaccines, so it’s not surprising that it would be opposed to contraceptive technology, especially if this technology empowers women. Natural family planning methods (those allowed by the Church) don’t work for everyone, especially since some of the methods require partner cooperation. And it’s completely unrealistic to say that people should not have sex other than for procreative reasons; having sex is part of what makes us human beings, and it’s an expression of love that is not always associated with wanting to get pregnant. Most importantly, no Church, let alone the Catholic Church, has the right to impose their beliefs or stance on contraception on anyone.

    On a separate note, I find the article to be incomplete; it explains why Melinda Gates supports contraception but the only reference to opposition is the line about the “blatant attack on morality”. No explanation is given as to why the Gates Foundation’s decision is opposed by the Church. I know a lot of the readers here know why this is, but it should still be explained in the article.

  • Erin

    The issue of “recreational” sex is not the central issue here. Many women around the world, from many different cultures, religions and socio-economic classes are not even in a position to decide IF they get to have sex. In many cases they are farmed out from a young age, married off to men without their consent or simply raped. These women, if not in a position to protect themselves from the act should at least be able to protect themselves from the aftermath.

  • Kate Allen

    Thank you Ms. Gates! Your statement about contraceptives needing to be out of the political platform is to be applauded. Thank you for your frank redress on this issue. Women around the world support and applaud your speaking out on this issue in a way that conveys you care and this issue needs to be on the front burner…not the political/moral sparks.

  • Hanuman Peelwa

    Thanks Mam! You are great & awesome work for woman & girls.
    You & Gates sir God bless you.
    Piease We hope that your foundation work in India and specialy for( Western Rajasthan).

    Thankyou so much.

  • Regina Barillas

    I agree with Mrs. Gates and I’m vera glad the Foundation id contributiva to this. In my country, Guatemala, little girls, as young as 10 or 12 years old become mothers because them have been helping the ir mothers raise their sibblings since they were 5 or 6.

    Besides this the access to condoms would be great help with the prevention of STD and HIV, that has become a big problem in Guatemala.

  • Sister Margaret Parry, CSJP

    I wholeheartedly support and applaud Melinda Gates and the Gates Foundation working to make contraceptives available to women everywhere. I worked in very poor, rural areas in the mountain regions of Mindanao, Philippines where there was no health care whatsoever. Burned forever in my mind is the picture of a middle-aged woman I met who was thin beyond belief and who looked old way beyond her years. A very thin, sickly, malnourished infant lay in her lap attempting to suckle on a totally flat and empty breast. This was her eighteenth child. My hope and prayer is that contraceptives will be available to all women worldwide to begin to decrease the terrible suffering and deaths of millions of poor women and their children. Thank you for making this a priority, it is so desperately needed.

  • Arne N. Gjorgov, MD, PhD

    Re: There is no controversy in contraception

    Just to mention the greatest and most important: condom’s link with breast cancer.
    If the condom-use is included once again in the decisions of the Melinda Gates London Summit on Contraception, July 2012, then the entire Summit could eventually be compromised in the years to come, because of the deadly, false belief of condom-use as a “safe” device for fertility-control and family-planning purposes. More specifically, the scientific evidence demonstrates that the condomization of female sexuality is strongly associated with breast cancer as an epidemic disease all around the world.
    More details in: ♦ Gjorgov AN. (Oct. 2011). “AIDS Changed America with the Twin Breast Cancer Epidemic: Exploring the Consequences of Condomization” (Ch. 22). Editor: Nancy Dumais, InTech, Vienna, Austria.
    Arne N. Gjorgov, MD, PhD (UNC-SPH, Chapel Hill, NC)
    Author of “Barrier Contraception and Breast Cancer,” 1980: x+164
    July 31, 2012

  • Amanda

    It IS controversial when you are supplying women with contraceptives that can potentially harm them in the long run! I agree that there needs to be easy access to birth control, and I even agree that the worlds population needs to be monitored, but not CONTROLLED! Women need to be more educated on the forms of birth control you are providing them. The contraceptives you are giving access to can be lethal and can often lead to cancer. The percentages of cancer diagnoses has dramatically inclined globally. Has anyone stopped to ask themselves why?? Its partly because of the family planning initiatives and vaccines that are getting thrown out there, rushed with little clinical evidence that they are safe! The Gates foundation is getting away with MURDER by funding these!