LONDON, July 11, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Melinda Gates, who has claimed her Catholic faith is behind her campaign to expand worldwide access to contraceptives, concluded the London Summit on Family Planning today with commitments to increase worldwide funding for birth control access by $2.6 billion.
The meeting, co-hosted by the Gates Foundation and the British Department for International Development (DfID), exceeded its goal by $300 million as nations and NGOs agreed to finance a plan to prevent 100 million pregnancies.
The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) promised to triple its services by 2020 and “scale up its advocacy by establishing civil society networks in the poorest countries.” IPPF Director-General, Tewodros Melesse expressed his gratitude that the summit will “ensure sexual and reproductive health and rights have an undisputed place in the post- 2015 development agenda.”
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has a current endowment of $34 billion, will spend $560 million over eight years.
Some 20 nations signed on to the initiative, with the British government offering £1.4 billion ($2.17 billion U.S.) and the EU donating 23 million Euros ($28 million). EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said, “Helping to provide family planning services is one of the best investments that a country can make in its future.”
Several cash-strapped nations in the Third World boosted their budgets, as well. Zambia doubled its family planning funds.
“It was almost embarrassing to watch,” said Wendy Wright of C-FAM, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. “African presidents stepped up to the stage to make promises to Melinda Gates and donor countries, as European leaders held out the elusive dream of ‘development’ if only these countries will dedicate themselves to free access to contraception.”
“The Catholic Church is with us as family planning is consistent within the context of marriage,” said Senegal’s health minister, Dr Awa Marie Coll-Seck, who said he plans a mass communications strategy involving the nation’s religious leaders.
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Some at the conference warned national leaders have to be “willing to tackle thornier issues of culture. You have to tackle both condoms and culture,” said Justin Forsyth, chief executive of Save the Children.
Critics on the political Left have worried the worldwide, multi-billion dollar program will lead to forceful sterilizations.
“A certain political blindness is at work in the Gates initiative,” wrote Betsy Hartmann, the director of the Population and Development Program and Professor of Development Studies at Hampshire College, on the far-Left website CommonDreams.org. “The assumption is that you can just pour in money and contraceptives to health and family programs that already discriminate against the poor and miraculously they will turn around and help women. Add to this the imperative to drive down birthrates and you get a recipe for coercion.” Hartmann, a supporter of abortion, blasted both “corporate profits and population control.”
Others raised the possibility the efforts will be fruitless. Before the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development, Harvard professor Lant Pritchett found the availability of contraceptives had a “negligible” effect on family size.
Gates insists her agenda “is not abortion. It is not population control.”
“This will be my life’s work,” she said.
Before the summit, American Life League founder Judie Brown told LifeSiteNews.com that Catholic bishops “must act in unison, calling on the Gates Foundation to stop this madness.”
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
P.O. Box 23350
Seattle, WA 98102
Phone: (206) 709-3100