Fr. Peter West

Inevitably Controversial: Melinda Gates and contraception for the poor

Fr. Peter West
By Fr. Peter West
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July 27, 2012 (HLIWorldWatch.org) - In the age of Wikipedia and viral internet sensations, it is easy for facts to be overshadowed by carefully crafted stories — the truth eclipsed by popularity.  It can take days, months, or even years to correct false information once it has “gone viral.”

Often such claims don’t involve life-and-death situations.  But then there is the case of Melinda Gates and her sophisticated media campaign insisting that there is “No Controversy” in pushing harmful contraceptives onto the women of the developing world.  Here we have the potential to negatively impact millions.

“When I travel and talk to women around the world, they tell me that access to contraceptives can often be the difference between life and death,” Gates said in a statement following the London Summit on Family Planning on July 11, organized by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  I have traveled around the world some myself, and I agree that contraceptives can be the difference between life and death.  But the truth of the matter is that the nations that embrace contraceptives are the ones suffering demographic collapse.  It’s in such nations that women suffer harmful medical side-effects from drugs that they believed would help them.

Mrs. Gates especially should know this, as the Gates Foundation actually funded a study which found that women using hormonal contraception, especially injectable methods like Depo-Provera (the kind favored by Ms. Gates), were at increased risk of contracting and spreading HIV, which continues to decimate many African nations.  In fact, the list of known risks of using hormonal contraception continues to grow.

The stated goal of the obviously not uncontroversial London summit was to raise $4 billion so that 120 million more women in the developing world might have access to contraception by 2020.  They surpassed their goal by some $600 million, with a host of governments and NGOs promising to support the campaign.  Ms. Gates also plans to give billions to research new contraceptive devices, such as one that is implanted in a woman’s body for her entire life and “can be turned on and off.”

Interestingly, Mrs. Gates and her partners weren’t pressed much by the media on the secrecy surrounding the location of the launch of the “No Controversy” campaign to radically increase contraception use in the developing world.  The location was not released to the public in advance, and the summit was by invitation only, even as Mrs. Gates boasted of her foundation’s “transparency” in a recent appearance on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report.

Thus far, Mrs. Gates has yet to face any hard questions surrounding her controversial initiative and the facts about how contraceptives destroy cultures and harm women.  For that intrepid reporter who dares to ask some pertinent, if unwelcome, questions, there are many newsworthy angles for exploration.

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Even beyond the increasing number of studies showing the danger posed by hormonal contraception, one might ask how Mrs. Gates and her partners, which include the world’s two largest abortion providers in Marie Stopes International and International Planned Parenthood Foundation (IPPF), how they plan to ensure that such products will not be used coercively by governments who are under increasing pressure from the United Nations to lower their total fertility rates.  Forced abortion and sterilization are certainly ongoing in China, India, and Uzbekistan, and these phenomena are likely much more common worldwide than reported.

And coincidentally, or not, it happens to be one hundred years since London’s First International Eugenics Conference.  This should also be a fruitful line of inquiry for reporters, since the founders of Gates’ partners Marie Stopes (Ms. Stopes herself) and IPPF (Margaret Sanger) were leaders in the early-20th-century movement to rid the world of those “unfit to live.”

Sanger’s troubling views on what should be done with the poor and “unfit” are now widely known, if for some reason still declared off-limits by the “reporters” who are busy repeating the Gates Foundation talking points following the summit.  And like Margaret Sanger, Marie Stopes was a eugenicist who believed in creating a more pure race, writing in 1920′s Radiant Motherhood that the “sterilization of those totally unfit for parenthood [must] be made an immediate possibility, indeed made compulsory.”

Again, Gates would surely repudiate these views, but they can’t be disconnected from the partners she has chosen to work with her in bringing “social justice” to the women of the developing world.  Population control and eugenics are in no way just, and as a Catholic, Mrs. Gates should know this.  It does no good to simply repackage the Sanger and Stopes missions as “reproductive health” and continue apace.  Helping to lift the poor out of poverty and preventing their existence are two very different things.

Will Mrs. Gates ever be forced to answer the obvious and, yes, controversial questions about concerns related to eugenics and to the ill effects on women from her proposed remedy to poverty?  Solving the problem of poverty by reducing the number of poor people is absolutely controversial, as are Gates’s partners. Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes International both perform abortion, which is opposed to the traditional values of the cultures of many nations.  A representative of Marie Stopes International even brazenly admitted at a London conference in 2007, to the obvious embarrassment of his peers, that the organization breaks the law and does illegal abortions all over the world.

It is not too late for Bill and Melinda Gates to use their vast wealth to help the poor in ways that are both uncontroversial and effective.  They could make huge investments in infrastructure and in educating the citizenry of poor nations.  They could use their clout to organize a coalition to put pressure on corrupt regimes that oppress the poor, and they could encourage more investment in developing nations, which leads to job-creation and increasing wealth and opportunity.

These are longstanding problems with solutions more complicated than can be examined here, but Mrs. Gates, the British government, and their partners will not change course unless they are challenged by reporters outside the conservative/pro-life community.  It is a dark day when those charged with breaking through the carefully choreographed message of the wealthy and powerful instead see their vocation as helping these powers to craft their message and deflect criticism.

A true reporter should be offended when reasonable questions are ignored, when informed contrary opinions are dismissed without argument, and when good-faith efforts at fact-finding are condescended to with talking points claiming that there is “No Controversy” in joining with population control organizations to help the developing world emerge from poverty.  Those more concerned with truth than with popularity and access to power will challenge Mrs. Gates and her powerful partners on these important questions.

Father Peter West is the vice president for missions at Human Life International, which is challenging Melinda Gates to rethink her approach to helping developing nations. This article originally appeared on AmericanThinker.com.

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Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
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Vatican pressing forward with reform of US feminist nuns: Cardinal Müller

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, says the Vatican is pressing forward with plans to reform the U.S.-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

In an interview published in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal said that the reform of the LCWR, which was undertaken after an assessment of the group found serious doctrinal problems, will be carried out with the goal of helping them "rediscover their identity.”

“Congregations have no more vocations and risk dying out," Müller said. "We have first of all tried to reduce hostility and tensions, partly thanks to Bishop Sartain whom we sent to negotiate with them; he is a very gentle man. We wish to stress that we are not misogynists, we are not women gobblers! Of course we have a different concept of religious life but we hope to help them rediscover their identity.”

Moreover, the cardinal said that problems specific to the LCWR are not a reflection of all the women religious in the US.

"We need to bear in mind that they do not represent all US nuns, but just a group of nuns who form part of an association,” Müller said.

“We have received many distressed letters from other nuns belonging to the same congregations, who are suffering a great deal because of the direction in which the LCWR is steering their mission.”

Cardinal Müller's remarks confirmed the assertion he and the Holy See’s delegate to the LCWR, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, made in an address to LCWR officials in Rome on April 30, that the theological drift the feminist nuns are taking constitutes a radical departure from the foundational theological concepts of Catholicism.

The Holy See “believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial faith of the Church,” Müller said in the address.

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“The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration,” he stated.

The LCWR has openly defied the mandate of reform intended to bring their organization into line with basic Catholic doctrine on the nature of God, the Church, and sexual morality.

Among the CDF’s directives, to which LCWR has strenuously objected, is the requirement that “speakers and presenters at major programs” be approved by Archbishop Sartain. This, Müller has explained, was decided in order to “avoid difficult and embarrassing situations wherein speakers use an LCWR forum to advance positions at odds with the teaching of the Church.”

The LCWR has invited speakers to their Annual Assembly such as New Age guru Barbara Marx Hubbard, and Sr. Laurie Brink, who is particularly noted for flagrantly denying the Divinity of Christ and telling the sisters that to maintain their “prophetic” place in society they need to “go beyond” the Church and even “go beyond Jesus.”

In one of the first public statements of his pontificate, Pope Francis affirmed that the investigation and reform of the LCWR must continue.

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Brian Fisher

Birth mothers: real heroes of the pro-life movement

Brian Fisher
By Brian Fisher
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What does it mean to be brave? Is it the doctor who dedicates himself to improving the health of a third-world nation? Is it the woman who faces her third round of chemotherapy to fight the progression of cancer? Is it the teacher who forgoes the comforts of a suburban school to reach minorities in the inner city? All of these are examples of bravery demonstrated in exceedingly challenging circumstances. And our society longs for stories of bravery to inspire us and fill us with hope.

As someone who works day in and day out with those on the front lines of helping rescue babies from abortion, I’m no stranger to stories of bravery. I see courage every day in the eyes of the men and women who sacrifice their time and energy to help women facing unplanned pregnancies. I see it every time a young mom — despite being pressured by her parents or significant other to get an abortion — chooses LIFE. And perhaps more profoundly than in any other situation, I see it when an expectant mom with no relational support, job, or income chooses to place her baby for adoption rather than abort her son or daughter.

This was Nicky’s situation.

When Nicky found herself pregnant with her boyfriend’s child, her life was already in shambles. During her 26 years, Nicky had already given birth to and surrendered sole custody of a little girl, committed several felonies, lived in her car, lost several jobs, and barely subsisted on minimum wage. So when she met up with an old boyfriend, Brandon, Nicky believed she was being given a second chance at happiness. “Our first year together was beautiful. We were getting to know each other and deciding if we would stay together forever.” Unfortunately, a positive pregnancy test result changed everything.

“When I told him I was pregnant, Brandon sat down on the bed, looked me in the eyes, and told me to ‘get an abortion’.” Nicky says those three little words changed everything for her. “I became depressed living with someone who wanted his child ‘dealt with.’”  Like thousands of women every day, Nicky began searching online for information on abortion, hoping her boyfriend would eventually change his mind. Through our strategic marketing methods, Online for Life was able to guide Nicky to a life-affirming pregnancy center where she received grace-filled counsel. “The woman I sat with was beyond wonderful. She helped me to just breathe and ask God what to do….And so I did.”

Nicky left the pregnancy center that day with a new resolve to choose life for her child, even though she still wasn’t sure how she’d financially support a child. “I was alone with just $10 in my pocket…and without any type of plan for what I was going to do.” So Nicky relied on the support of the staff she met at the life-affirming pregnancy center. With their help and through a chain of fortunate events, Nicky was put in contact with the couple who would eventually become her daughter’s adoptive parents.

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After meeting this couple face to face and coming to terms with her own desperate situation, Nicky conceded that the best thing for her unborn child would be to place her in someone else’s loving home. She told Brandon about her plans and he agreed that adoption would give their child the best chance at a happy and secure future. He even returned home to help Nicky prepare for the birth of their child. “The weeks leading up to my delivery were filled with a mixture of laughter, tears, protectiveness and sadness,” Nicky recalls. But one sentiment continued to be shared with her. “Brave…so brave.” That’s what everyone from the life-affirming pregnancy center to the adoption agency to the birthing center kept calling Nicky. “The nurses kept coming up to me and telling me they were honored to care for and treat someone like me.” After several weeks of preparation, Nicky finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and she made the dreams of a couple from the other side of the country come true.

Nicky’s adoption story continues to be riddled with a strange combination of pain and joy. “I cry every day, but I know my baby, who came out of a very bad time, ended up being loved by people from across the country.” When asked what message she’d like to share with the world about her decision to give up her child for adoption, Nicky responds, The voice of the mother who gives up a baby for adoption isn’t heard. We need to change that.”

To learn more about Online for Life and how we’re helping to make stories like Nicky and her daughter’s story a possibility, please visit OnlineforLife.org.

Author, speaker, and business leader Brian Fisher is the President and Co-Founder of Online for Life, a transparent, metric-oriented, compassion-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to helping rescue babies and their families from abortion through technology and grace.

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New York farmers stop hosting weddings after $13,000 fine for declining lesbian ceremony

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By Dustin Siggins

New York farmers Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who were ordered last week to pay $13,000 for not hosting a same-sex "wedding," say they are closing that part of their operation.

"Going forward, the Giffords have decided to no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their farm, other than the ones already under contract," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lawyer James Trainor. ADF represented the Giffords in their legal fight against New York's non-discrimination law.

Last week, the Giffords were ordered to pay a $10,000 fine to the state of New York and $3,000 in damages to a lesbian couple, Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin, who approached them in 2012 about hosting their "wedding." The Giffords, who are Roman Catholic, said their religious convictions would not let them host the ceremony, but that McCarthy and Erwin could hold their reception on their property.

Unbeknownst to the Giffords, the lesbian couple recorded the two-to-three minute conversation. After declining to hold the reception on the Giffords' farm, on which they live and rent property, the lesbian couple decided to make a formal complaint to the state's Division of Human Rights.

Eventually, Judge Migdalia Pares ruled that the Giffords' farm, Liberty Ridge Farm, constitutes a public accommodation because space is rented on the grounds and fees are collected from the public. The Giffords argued that because they live on the property with their children, they should be exempt from the state law, but Pares said that this does not mean their business is private.

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Trainor told TheBlaze that the Giffords' decision to end wedding ceremonies at Liberty Ridge “will hurt their business in the short run," but that was preferable to violating their religious beliefs.

“The Giffords serve all people with respect and care. They have hired homosexual employees and have hosted events for same-sex couples,” he said.

However, "since the state of New York has essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions," Trainor explained to LifeSiteNews. "No American should be forced by the government to choose between their livelihood and their faith, but that’s exactly the choice the state of New York has forced upon the Giffords."

"They will continue to host wedding receptions," said Trainor.

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