Melinda Gates: Saving Thousands of Women’s Lives Through Contraception
Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a Catholic, has delivered a powerful case for universal access to contraception for women around the world who need and want it.
She described birth control as an idea that, if made policy in both developed and developing countries, could save hundreds of thousands of women’s and children’s lives each year.
Gates decried myths about contraception talking to the TEDxChange conference in Berlin, in a speech that “stressed her Catholic identity and values,” reported Michael C. Fox, publisher of the National Catholic Reporter.
“Some people think contraceptives are code for abortion, which they’re not,” Gates said. “Some people are uncomfortable because contraceptives have to do with sex. Some people worry that the real goal is to control populations.
“All these side issues have attached themselves to the core idea that men and women should be able to decide when to have a child. As a result, birth control has almost disappeared from the global health agenda.”
Fighting such diseases as diarrhea and pneumonia is vital, Gates said, as well as helping farmers on small plots of land grow food.
“But one of the simplest and most transformational things we can do is give everybody access to the birth control methods that almost all Germans — and all Americans — use at some point in their lives,” Gates argued.
“We can insist that all families have the opportunity to learn about contraceptives, and have access to the full variety of methods so they can decide which one is right for them. This is the clear goal: universal access to the birth control that women want. To achieve that goal, rich and poor governments alike must make birth control a priority.”