Timothy Herrmann

Colbert ribs Melinda Gates about wanting to stop ‘people’s lives from existing’

Timothy Herrmann
By Timothy Herrmann
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July 6, 2012 (C-fam.org) - Love him or hate him, Stephen Colbert doesn’t waste time getting to the point. In last Thursday’s interview with Melinda Gates on the Colbert Report. He asked Melinda about her newest initiative and cut straight to the chase: the new population control movement exists to save lives by erasing lives.

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.”

The old population control movement existed for more or less the same reason, to eradicate poverty by eradicating the poor. In fact, the only major difference between the two movements is one of semantics. Today’s newest generation of population control proponents are still billionaires, still from the first world, and are still convinced that the poor are at the center of the world’s woe.

What’s changed is their marketing campaign and rhetoric.

The word “control”, especially when placed directly after the word population, evokes a flood of concrete historical memories that include coercive family planning programs still infamous today. The programs were known for addressing poverty through forced sterilizations, eradicating the poor in order to eradicate poverty. In the process, they robbed the poor person of their humanity and replaced it with a number in order to fulfill fertility quotas.

The policies were racist and driven by ideological fear. They were sponsored by many of the same organizations that make up the new population movement today. The new movement, however, has attempted to distance itself from its past with a very modern, subtle shift in ideology. No longer do they emphasize eugenics or even use the word “control”, but prefer the word “empowerment” and the ideology of women’s rights.

Today they use words like “population dynamics” and phrases like “demography is not destiny”. They shame the poor world into believing that the real problem isn’t so much investment in their education, health, or economy as it is their fertility. They tell them, “if you only would use family planning to ‘space your children’ properly you wouldn’t have the problems that you do, you wouldn’t be so poor and uneducated.”  Then they tell these people, especially women, many of whom have access to modern methods of family planning, that it is their “right” to use those methods, even though, given their strong insistence, it seems to be less of right than an “obligation”.

Their message is as clear as it was 50 years ago: the poor are the problem, and according to this movement, it is the poor that are the ones responsible for solving it. How? By controlling their population growth. By not having children. The billionaires can’t do it for them, they can’t force them. They can pay them to do it, they can educate them on how to do it, they can even increase their access to the services that will help them to do it, but they can’t make them. They already tried that.

So instead they focus on rights, and they focus on shame, and they tell people like me, in the first world, that the poor people in the southern hemisphere would be okay if they just get access to contraception. And we mostly believe them. Except, something just doesn’t seem right.

Does development really come from contraception? And is it really a problem of too many people? What about investing in jobs, education, health and infrastructure? Perhaps those are the real problems. Perhaps, and this is just a wild guess, that is the way the north has been able to grow….

The north developed without contraception. It became rich and educated without contraception. Fertility began dropping later, and again, without contraception. Instead it was education that made the difference. It was economic growth provided by investment and the entrepreneurship of people, not numbers.

The new population control movement, led by billionaires like Melinda Gates in coordination with organizations the like UNFPA and governments that include both the United States and the United Kingdom, still wants to eradicate poverty by eradicating the poor, it’s just that, for historical reasons, they can’t come out and say it so directly. Yet, every now and then they do, just as Melinda did the other night. This needs to be made clear. This movement must be de-masked, and defeated once again.

I think that Melinda Gates actually believes that increasing the poor’s access to family planning will really better their lives. I also think that many of the people involved in the population control movement in the 40s, 50s and 60s did as well.  However, what they don’t seem to be able to understand, or at least reconcile, is that this is not the only solution. Instead it’s a solution that comes at the cost of reducing people to numbers, and one that will put billions of dollars into “empowering” people to stop having children rather than educating them and helping them to build a society where they are valued as a resource rather than a curse.

Yes, Melinda Gates is Catholic, but this is not the “preferential option for the poor” that we have been educated to at Church and in school for the last 2,000 years. No, that option is built on love, responsibility and the experience of seeing human beings as protagonists and not numbers.

Reprinted with permission from C-Fam’s Turtle Bay and Beyond blog.


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African denounces Western elites pushing population control in his country

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By Ben Johnson

An op-ed in one of the leading publications in Uganda has denounced the promotion of IUD use and other long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) in the nation as a colonialist form of population control.

An article published in New Vision, which bills itself as “Uganda's leading daily,” and which was posted online after being translated into broken English, contradicts the frequent claim that there is a desperate cry from Africans and brown people generally to provide the “unmet need” for contraception in the Third World.

Programs to convince African women to use the IUD or other forms of contraception “are projects of multibillion international agencies distributing them under the guise of helping the poor countries to control birth rates,” Stephen Wabomba wrote.

The use of the IUD leads to an increase in “the spread of STIs/HIV/AIDS, infections or increased rates of Pelvic Infection Diseases (PID),” and other maladies, he said. The IUD, which is inserted into the uterus and may work for years at a time, offers no protection against sexually transmitted diseases and often does not prevent fertilization.

Western governments and NGOs are very much “aware of the side effect[s] but still force them on us through sensational marketing strategies by claiming that there is unmet need” for contraception “in Uganda,” he wrote.

He instead suggested the use of Natural Family Planning methods as the “best alternative” for married couples, as well as increased “funding of chastity and abstinence education in Uganda.”

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He called on every citizen of Uganda “to stand up and be counted as a lover of life” and become a “protector of the voiceless and defenseless unborn children being aborted every day.”

Wabomba is heeding his own advice by acting as director of the Pregnancy Help Center in Jinja, the second largest city in Uganda. The town of 87,000 is perched on the shores of Lake Victoria.


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Guilherme Ferreira Araújo

UN tells Chile and Peru to legalize abortion

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By Guilherme Ferreira Araújo

On July 7 and 8, the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHCR) discussed Chile’s abortion laws and issued a report asking for liberalization of those laws.

According to the report, Chile “should establish exceptions to the general prohibition of abortion, contemplating therapeutic abortion and in those cases in which the pregnancy is a consequence of a rape or incest.”

Chile is one of the few countries that prohibits abortion in all cases.  So far, the country has managed to stand against internal and external pressure to legalize abortion.

But during her campaign, President Michele Bachelet promised to make the legalization of abortion a priority.  Indeed, last May she stated that her intention was to reopen the debate so that the government could approve therapeutic abortion before the end of this year.  The U.N. report also said that Chile “should make sure that reproductive health services are accessible to all women and adolescents."

One of the reasons the UN is using to pressure Chile’s government to change their abortion laws is the high number of clandestine abortions allegedly taking place in Chile. The UNHRC points to “official data” showing 150,000 annual clandestine abortions. However, not only is it impossible to corroborate that figure, but other sources show that this number could be exaggerated by a factor of 10.  According to an article published in the Chilean news publication, Chile B, the annual number of clandestine abortions in Chile may vary between 8,270 and 20,675.

Inflating the number of illegal abortions and maternal mortality is a common tactic of the pro-abortion movement’s effort to legalize the deadly practice. Dr. Bernard Nathanson, founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), famously admitted the tactic after becoming pro-life.

“We claimed that between five and ten thousand women a year died of botched abortions,” he said. "The actual figure was closer to 200 to 300 and we also claimed that there were a million illegal abortions a year in the United States and the actual figure was close to 200,000. So, we were guilty of massive deception."

Chile has also been used as a prime example that legalized abortion does not reduce maternal mortality.

A study published in 2012 by Plos One Institute found that since 1989 when Chile banned abortion, there has been an annual decrease in maternal death. That study, and others compiled and published by the Chilean MELISA Institute strongly challenge the myth that abortion is safe or even necessary to increase maternal health.

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Notwithstanding the empirical data, the United Nations is also hard at work to pressure Chile’s neighbor to the North, Peru, to liberalize its own abortion laws.  In the case of Peru it is the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) that has issued the report, not the UNHRC.  CEDAW representatives examined Peru’s case on July 1 and suggested that Peru should legalize abortion in case of rape and severe abnormalities of the unborn child.

The organism suggested that the government eliminate all laws that punish women who abort and asked that Peru “urgently” adopt a law to fight violence against women, a notion often used as a euphemism for legalizing abortion.  

The CEDAW commission presented the conclusions of the report on July 22 and put special emphasis on the abortion issue. This happens despite the strong opposition to abortion in Peru. A recent survey showed that 79 percent of Peruvians support the Catholic Church’s position on abortion.

The CEDAW pressure on Peru is not new. In 2011, after the UN sanctioned Peru for denying an abortion to a teenager, Carlos Polo, Director of the Population Research Institute’s Latin American office, stated that the UN organism doesn’t have the right to force Peru to approve abortion.


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People ask me all the time, “How do you live with your past?” My answer is silly, but it is a true story. Youtube screenshot
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I helped so many women abort their babies. Now how do I live with that?

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By Abby Johnson
Abby Johnson business card Planned Parenthood

I have many memories of my time with Planned Parenthood. I spent eight years of my life there. Some memories are good, some are not. But they are contained in my mind. It’s easy to forget them. I have forgotten so much about my time there in just four and a half short years. 

I found my old business card the other day. That is a tangible memory for me. It made me think of the day that I heard I had been promoted to direct the clinic. I was so happy…hugging and jumping up and down with my supervisor. She was so proud of me.

I thought about the day I moved everything into my new, big office. I put pro-choice stickers all over my file cabinet. I called my parents to share the news. They were, of course, proud of me, but hated my work. I can’t imagine how conflicted they were in their minds and hearts. Human resources sent me my new paperwork. There was my new title, my new and amazing salary. 

A few days later, my new business cards came. I remember putting them in my new business card holder on my desk. I filled up the business card holder that I kept in my purse. I had already become used to hearing myself say my new title.

I was proud of myself. I was proud of the hard work I had put in to earn that new title. I worked so many hours, sacrificed so much time from my family. But I knew it would be worth it. And now I had the job title to prove it.

I remember proudly passing out my new business cards to anyone that would take one. Being pro-choice was not just a movement to me; it was a lifestyle. I wholeheartedly embraced that lifestyle and loved being a part of it. 

These tangible reminders that I occasionally find are sometimes hard to work through. I remember receiving the records from my medication abortion. That tangible reminder of my past was difficult to manage. I look at my “Employee of the Year” award that I received from Planned Parenthood and think back to the night I received it. I ended up putting that old award on my desk as a reminder of where I came from and how much my life has changed. Seeing that plaque no longer brings back those tangible memories. 

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One of the reasons I was so taken aback when finding my old business card was not just because it was a reminder of how proud I had been to run an abortion clinic…something I find deplorable now. It was because of the things I took part in while I had that big title.

The memories of handing women small monetary checks in order to pay for their silence after we had left them with a serious infection after their abortion. The memories of watching women bleed out on our abortion table and being instructed not to call the ambulance because we didn’t want to let the pro-lifers know that we had a medical emergency. The memories I have of “joking” about the babies that died in our facility by abortion. The memories I have of training our abortion facility employees on the “normalcy” of abortion and how to convince women that abortion is the best choice for them.

Part of being a former abortion clinic worker is learning how to deal with your past sin. It may be the lady who came to your clinic for an abortion that you bump into at the store. It could be standing in front of your former abortion facility and remembering all of the damage your words and actions did to so many women. It could be finding that old business card that reminds you of the pride you felt when you became the director of an abortion facility. 

People ask me all the time, “How do you live with your past?” My answer is silly, but it is a true story. 

One day I was watching the kid’s movie “Kung Fu Panda” with my daughter. In the film there is a wise, old tortoise named Oogway. He is talking to one of his students who is frustrated with his current situation. Oogway asks his student, “Do you know why today is called the present? Because it is a gift.”

That little line by an animated tortoise hit me like a ton of bricks. Today is a gift. There is absolutely nothing we can do with our past. And there is very little we can do to control our future. We live NOW. We serve NOW. We choose to move on from our past NOW. 

I don’t know what your past sins are. And I don’t know how frequently you are reminded of them. But as someone who has to face their past sins on pretty much a daily basis, I can tell you that you can be free from their burden. Being reminded of your past doesn’t mean that you have to live with constant grief. It simply means that you have been given the opportunity to transform your past into something positive…maybe you can help others make different choices than you did, maybe you can help others heal from the same struggles that you lived through. I don’t know what you are being called to do, but as the saying goes, “God can turn our mess into a message.” 

Carrying around past burdens doesn’t help us in any way. Know that you can be forgiven. Accept that forgiveness. Use your life to help others. The present is indeed a gift.

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