The Gates Foundations, the philanthropic organization set up be Bill and Melinda Gates, has a history of relieving suffering in third world countries. The latest program announced is a pledge to make contraception available 120 million women by 2020.
The announcement was made at the London Summit on Family Planning, co-hosted by the UK Government’s Department for International Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This unprecedented effort showcased innovative partnerships and leadership at the country level, empowering women to reach their full potential. The Summit underscored the importance of access to contraceptives as both a right and a transformational health and development priority.
…Access to safe, effective methods of contraception is considered one of the most cost-effective investments a country can make in its future. Studies show that every US $1 invested in family planning services yields up to $6 in savings on health, housing, water, and other public services.
Contraceptive use also leads to more education and greater opportunities for girls, helping to end the cycle of poverty for them and their families. Up to a quarter of girls in Sub-Saharan Africa drop out of school due to unintended pregnancies, stifling their potential to improve their lives and their children’s lives.
This is a push towards contraception as an aid in minimizing the negative effects of unwanted pregnancies, so of course it received the ire of that bastion of women’s rights—the Roman Catholic Church. In statements and articles, the church criticizes both the program itself and Ms Gates claims to be inspired by her Catholic faith.
When billionairess Melinda Gates announced her plans to bring contraception to more than 100 million impoverished women, she presented herself as a practicing Catholic inspired by a commitment to social justice inculcated during her high-school years at the Ursuline Academy in Dallas.
It must be extremely difficult for someone with a conscience to declare themselves to be a member of this organization. The article continues with the myth that the leaders of the church are the final arbitrators of morality.
Not only does the moral law provide boundaries beyond which we cannot go, thus protecting human dignity, it also guards against misplaced passions that so often derail our human projects, leading to failure and even tragedy.
Given Gates’ impressive record of philanthropy and service, many Catholics are loath to judge her intentions, nor should they do so. But we also must not forget that the promotion of contraception constitutes a direct violation of Catholic teaching.
And then the lies and misinformation begin:
And while Gates believes that her campaign will result in a vast reduction in maternal and infant deaths, contraception has repeatedly failed to live up to its vaunted promise of alleviating suffering and poverty. A half century after the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of oral contraception in the United States, non-marital births, sexual exploitation of women, divorce and an impoverished underclass continue to gain ground.
Indeed, a refusal to reassess this failed legacy reveals that blind faith, not evidence-based medicine, has fueled the promotion of contraception, even as its supporters work to sideline Catholic health care and social outreach that reject such practices.
Blind faith is an integral part of religion, and extends to manipulating facts to fit preconceived ideas. There are many studies that have conclusively demonstrated the correlation between lack of sex education, promotion of abstinence only education, and false teaching on the effectiveness of contraception. The issues highlighted above, non-marital births, sexual exploitation of women, divorce and an impoverished underclass, are more appropriately assigned to the misogyny of religion than to the use of contraception (with perhaps the exception of divorce, which has freed many people from remaining in abusive relationships).
Thus, while their “intentions … can seem convincing at times, especially if presented in the name of solidarity, we are in fact faced by an objective ‘conspiracy against life.’ Further, this anti-life regime is presented as ‘a mark of progress and a victory of freedom,’ while pro-life witness is attacked as an ‘enemy of freedom and progress.’”
What the Church refers to as ‘pro-life’ is actually an stance that perceives women as not much more than baby makers. They have stood for allowing women to die or forcing children to give birth rather than aborting a foetus.
In another article in the same magazine, they link this latest initiative to a practice in India that needs to be ended.
on the very same day of her summit the health department in Jaipur, the largest city in the district of Rajasthan in India, launched its campaign to sterilize 100,000 women in just two weeks. A complaint against the many “sterilization camps” — where women are maimed on straw mats and many have reportedly bled to death — that are held throughout India, which receive millions in Department for International Development and USAID funding.
I cannot imagine Ms Gates supporting such a practice. I am inclined to think that availability of contraception would end and perceived need for forced sterilization. However, the RC concept of every sperm being sacred is antithetical to any form of contraception, even the use of barrier methods that are known to reduce the spread of STDs and HIV, yet they speak of their superior morality.
The one thing the Church has correct is that Melinda Gates is not acting according to Catholic teachings in her programs to help women. And that’s a very very good thing.