With Catholics around the world howling in outrage at the Gates Foundation for funding more access — or access at all — to birth control, especially in developing countries, Melinda Gates did an interview with CNN and defended the efficacy and importance of those programs.
While most Catholics, in the United States, at least, according to polls, seem to agree with Gates that contraception for women is not controversial, some Catholic bloggers are taking issue with the plan.
One blog in particular, LifeSiteNews.com, has frequently published diatribes against Gates, calling into question her faith, and calling her plan a “blatant attack on Catholic sexual morality.”…
According to the Gates Foundation website, the focus of the family planning initiative will be on urban areas in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, areas where maternal and infant mortality rates are high and contraception use is low.
“Africa’s the one place really in the world, for the most part, that contraceptives haven’t been available and it’s really been a crime,” said Gates. “If you see what’s happened in other countries that have had contraceptives, they use them first of all and the birth rates go down. … The question is could it have come down even more quickly?”
Gates frequently cites research from a decades-long study in Bangladesh as a rationale for family planning. Given the ability to space out their children using birth control, women can begin what Gates calls a “virtuous economic cycle.”
The study, started in the 1970s in Matlab, compared a group with access to contraception and birth-control education to a similar group that did not have access to those things.
“(In) the community that had access to contraceptives, the women chose to use them, the families grew up wealthier, fewer women died in childbirth,” said Gates. “And what we’re seeing happening with that is that it’s playing out again all over the world. These small scale things you have in terms of giving a family the access leads to huge economic changes. ”
Universal access to birth control is not only crucial for restraining population growth, it’s also necessary for women to achieve anything even remotely like equality in nations all over the world. Kudos to Gates for not backing down and for making this the number one priority for the foundation.