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Melinda Gates, Francis Kissling, and Co. work together on "international family planning"
Melinda Gates, wife of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, speaks at the London Summit on Family Planning in central London July 11, 2012. (CNS photo)

From a report today by the Catholic Family and Human Rights Initiative on the Women Deliver conference:

KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 (C-FAM) Drawn by the promise of helping poor women, over 3,000 power-brokers, policy-makers and aid workers gathered in Kuala Lumpur this week for Women Deliver, a global conference on women’s health.

A billionaire and a princess graced the stage to tell nurses and clean water advocates that any effort to help poor women is secondary to giving them contraception and abortion.

Sexual and reproductive rights are “at the core of human life,” said Princess Mary of Denmark. Until women have power not to have children, they won’t have power to improve nutrition, grow crops, or deliver babies safely, said Melinda Gates.

“Pregnancy is not natural,” said Francis Kissling, the former head of Catholics for Choice.

And with that, the sharp divide became apparent between first-world activists who want a universal right to abortion and the poor women they believe should have fewer children.

The WomenDeliver.org site posted a piece, "Global Leaders Call for Accelerated Progress on Family Planning at Women Deliver 2013", on Wednesday that contained the following:

The day’s events built on commitments and energy generated at the landmark July 2012 London Summit on Family Planning, where global leaders pledged more than US $2.6 billion to provide 120 million more women and girls in the world’s poorest countries with voluntary access to contraceptive services, information, and supplies by 2020. Speakers at Women Deliver 2013 discussed strategies to reach women and girls in developing countries who do not want to become pregnant, but lack access to contraceptives.

“Putting women at the center of development and delivering solutions that meet their needs will result in huge improvements in health, prosperity, and quality of life,” said Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Co-Chair Melinda Gates. “When women have access to contraceptives they’re healthier, their children are healthier, and their families thrive.”

How important is the involvement of Gates, who credits her Catholic education and faith for driving her contraceptive-fixated agenda? Very important, according to this just-posted piece on The Daily Beast Site. After several years of shying from openly advocating widespread contraceptive use (aka, "international family planning") in Third World countries, the piece states, Gates has made the central focus of this year's Women Deliver gathering:

A year ago, Gates, co-chair, with her husband, Bill, of the world’s largest philanthropy, decided to devote herself to getting family planning back on the global agenda. As she told me then, the intense politicization around the issue had created “a glaring hole. Nobody was working really in a united way on contraception.”

Last  July the Gates Foundation helped convene a summit in London where international leaders pledged $2.6 billion to provide 120 million women and girls with access to contraception by 2012. “Now there’s huge momentum,” says Poonam Muttreja, executive director of the Population Foundation of India. “I think we can give a lot of credit to the Gates Foundation for taking leadership.”

One key to the change, the piece argues, is that George W. Bush is no longer POTUS; in fact, his daughter, Barbara P. Bush spoke at the summit.

“If we can ensure that young people right now have access to reproductive health, family planning, [and] education … we really can leverage young people to be drivers of economic growth,” she said. The founder of an international volunteer organization called Global Health Corps, she also serves on the board of Population Services International. She declined to speak about her policy differences with her father, but while his administration restricted access to reproductive health care, she’s working on the ground to expand it. According to Hofmann, in countries including Burundi, Bush’s volunteers augment Population Services International’s programs.

Last July, I wrote about Gates and her disinginuous use of the "Catholic educated" card:

1. She refers often to "social justice" and how her Catholic education taught her its importance, especially in her public life.

2. Having touted her Catholic resume, she deflects legitimate criticism about her promotion of contraceptives in Third World countries by saying or suggesting its just a matter of personal opinion. One implication of this clever ploy is that makes sincerity, not moral truth, the key criteria for gauging how good and wonderful her philanthropic work really is.

3.  The next step is to suggest that while her critics are politically motivated (and thus cynical and hard-hearted), she is motivated solely by a selfless care for poor, helpless women in need of empowerment: "I think we made birth control and contraceptives way too political in the United States ... I think if people understood that 200 million women want this around the world they would start to say, 'OK that makes sense.' ... We shouldn't make it such a political issue."

The surreal but intended result is that Gates is presented as the golden-hearted and benevolent savior of Third World women, even though her work is, ultimately, anti-life—something she admitted (unwittingly, I'm guessing) to Steve Colbert in a recent appearance on his program:

Colbert: “But now you’ve got a new charitable hobby horse you’re on, and it’s not necessarily saving people’s lives, so much as it’s stopping people’s lives from existing. You want to provide family planning to 120 million men and women around the world.”

Melinda Gates: “Right."

Read that entire piece. It is not surprising, then, to hear that Gates is working to unite religious leaders in supporting her "family planning" work:

The co-chair of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said they have been successful in getting contraceptives on the agenda at summit meetings on family planning.

"We could not even remember we had political will around contraceptives.

"We brought together many religious voices and had a series of meetings with them," Gates told a press conference at the Women Deliver 2013 Third Global Conference here on Wednesday. The conference ends tomorrow.

Gates added that she would be meeting and engaging with religious leaders here tomorrow over the matter.

She was asked if religious fundamentalism had hampered access to family planning.

Gates said she met religious leaders in Senegal from the top to the village level and found it encouraging to hear that the Quran allowed for family planning, adding that breaking religious barries had to be driven at the country level.

Read the entire piece.

 
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Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight.
 
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