July 31, 2012
The Gates Foundation recently established a web site, No Controversy, whose purpose is to establish the idea that contraceptive use and the idea of the right to contraceptive use is completely noncontroversial. The sites home page is covered in testimonials:
The life in a metropolitan city can be at times very hectic and uncertain. In the midst of work related and personal projects, a long term relationship can be the decisive factor in balancing out your life. An unplanned pregnancy is for my generation a disruptive element in ones development. I am grateful for contraceptives and consider them one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century. @Vlad G. (Austria)
I remember myself saying at age 16: I’ll get a child with 35 or maybe not at all, but not earlier. Till about 32 I did not want to have children at all. The feeling was, they would ruin my life and steal my youth. Until then I could travel the world, experience everything I loved to do and attend school & university. When I was 33 I met my partner, with 35 my son was born. He’s the sun of my life, my heart, my most precious and now I’m even thinking to get a second one. Contraception is about LOVE, about saying YES I want this lovely child & I’m ready to give birth NOW. @Marijana (Germany)
Becoming pregnant, by this thinking, is not the natural consequence and ultimate purpose of intimacy between two people committed to one another in marriage. Becoming pregnant before you have experienced, seen and learned everything you wish is a disruption, an annoyance, a violation of the perceived right to be physically intimate with anyone, at any time, without consequences. And along the way, somehow, an entire generation has been encouraged to dream of everything everything but marriage and parenthood.
This is not to say that everyone must have or want children. The natural and wise desire to delay childbearing until one is prepared to parent well is not a problem; the problem at hand is that the proposed method of achieving this is not behavior modification, but drugs, whose implications for both mens and womens health are as yet uncertain.
As Tom Hoopes at the National Catholic Register says in his piece, Melinda Gates and the Contraceptive Imperialists, too often those who consider contraception to be the solution for the problems of impoverished nations have no option for those who desire to both have a family and to maintain a basic standard of living.
In other words, the best way to help poor people feed children is to eliminate them in the first place so they wont have to be fed. And the cheapest way to take care of them is to not have to take care of them.
Compare that to a basic Catholic statement about service to the poor, from the Catechism (2439): Rich nations have a grave moral responsibility toward those which are unable to ensure the means of their development by themselves or have been prevented from doing so by tragic historical events.
The Church believes that rich nations should increase the availability of resources to the poor. Family planners believe that rich nations should reduce the number of human beings using resources.
If they dont want to read the Catholic Catechism, perhaps the Gates Foundation folks should read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Ebenezer Scrooge had exactly their answer to poverty: Decrease the surplus population.
The Ghost of Christmas Present put him in his place: It may be that in the sight of heaven you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor mans child. Oh God! To hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust!
Melinda Gates has focused her efforts on providing women in developing countries with contraception. With the crushing lack of health infrastructure and educational and economic opportunity in the developing world, this is a poor use of funds that directed differently could do great good. The argument that women require contraceptives that may damage their health to control their fertility is false. The argument that suppressing ones fertility artificially as opposed to simply modifying ones behavior is the only way to ensure that girls around the world can realize their potential is false. The needs of women in developing countries vary, but as this response from Human Life International, Facts for Melinda Gates, says surely the funding provided by the Gates Foundation would be better spent on any number of projects: on providing girls with primary and secondary and tertiary education, or on microfinance loans for women with great business ideas, or on building hospitals. There is truly no controversy surrounding such investments. Surely such investments would do more to shrink the opportunity gender gap and create a culture of respect for girls and women around the world.