Melinda Gates hits out at ‘war on women’ on eve of summit

50

Religious groups attack London family planning conference as ‘blatant attack on morality’



Melinda and Bill Gates visit a village near Patna in the Indian state of Bihar.
Photograph: Aftab Alam Siddiqui/AP

Campaigners have attacked a “war on women” being waged by religious organisations before an international summit on family planning to be held in London this week.

The conference, co-hosted by the Department for International Development (Dfid) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, plans to raise money and awareness to bring contraception to millions of women and girls in the developing world.

This weekend Melinda French Gates, the wife of the Microsoft founder and one of the world’s richest women, tried to deflect controversy around the summit. In an interview to be broadcast on CNN on Sunday, she said giving women better access to contraception had become her lifetime’s work.

Gates, who is a practising Catholic, has been targeted by religious groups, which have described her mission as a “blatant attack on morality” and an elitist effort at population control.

In response Gates said the lack of family planning available to 210 million women was “a crime”. She added: “We made birth control and contraceptives way too political in the US. I think if people understood that 200 million women want this around the world they would start to say, ‘OK that makes sense.’”

 

Written By: Tracy McVeigh,
continue to source article at guardian.co.uk

50 COMMENTS

  1. In response Gates said the lack of family planning available to 210 million women was “a crime”. She added: “We made birth control and contraceptives way too political in the US. I think if people understood that 200 million women want this around the world they would start to say, ‘OK that makes sense.’”#
    Whilst i have the utmost respect for Bill and his wife,I think she is sadly deluded if she believes the religious cretins are suddenly going to say ‘ok that makes sense’ when did sense ever play a part in religious reaction?

  2. I was under the impression Bill Gates was agnostic/atheist.  The Gates are “practicing Catholics” (?) seems like an oxymoron if they are providing better access to contraception to women in African and other countries. 

  3. Melinda is the practicing Catholic, rather than Bill I think. Really liberal, left-wing educated Catholics do exist, and you’d probably find that you had little to disagree with them about on any issue (other than the God thing).

    It is true that such Catholics are not adhering to anything that the Vatican says they ought to, but I’m okay with that :)

  4. I’m not ok with it. Setting aside the incredibly intellectual dishonesty of belonging to a group whose core beliefs and practices you don’t agree with, if they are “practicing” Catholics I assume that means they go to mass and drop money in the collection plate. By doing that they are supporting with one hand the very forces of misogyny and pedophilia that they work against on the other days of the week.

  5. Yes, what she is doing is a good thing. It would take a lot more courage though to speak up for the women in her own country who are having war waged on them by the Republicans that she and her friends support. The number of bills passed in state legislatures in the US to make abortion unobtainable and to even make contraception difficult to get has been unprecedented.

  6. My understanding is that Melinda Gates is a practicing Catholic and Bill Gates is an Atheist. Yes, that can and does happen, my parents were just like that. I would advise against it. However, I am very much encouraged by Melinda standing up to the Bishops and acknowledging that being Catholic does not mean you have to get in line when the Church is on the wrong side of political and moral issues. She represents the position of the vast majority of Catholic women, and the Bishops are whistling past the graveyard of Church attendance to ignore her.

    Watch what happens in the developing fight between the U.S. Bishops and the U.S. Government over contraception coverage in worker’s health insurance. The Bishops have declared a great battle to save religious freedom, but when they take the field, if Melinda is any example, there will only be a sad old group of mostly Catholic men there to back them. I am looking forward to watching that.

  7. Foreknowledge seems an adaptation of intellect per se. Knowing that millions of children will be born to lives of suffering, one would think, were a simple example of good use of this sense. However, we see time and again, historic brains from the Middle East being deferred to, as if in their day they had some measure of intellect that supplanted that of humanity forever and ever. Now that is senseless!

    Take the natural order of life on Earth for example: prior to these last few centuries millions suffered due this “natural phenomenon” and only since intelligent use of foresight and subsequent intervention have things such as inoculations saved millions of us unnecessary sufferings.

    Transpose this into sexual activity per se, and we see the whole of the natural world exists due this feature and foreknowledge we have about it. For humans, somehow, it seems again we are  held over the barrel of historical middle eastern intelligentsia in dictating against present day solutions to countless and unavoidable sufferings. 

    Sex after all, has never gone away and if it ever did so who of us would be here to argue for or against it? This alone says something about the intelligence of any position we take on the subject , absent any deferrals to any intelligence from anytime in any history of any race of people.

    The elephant in the room, as rational thinkers are to well aware, is absolute intelligence! There is no such thing and nor should there be.

    With this in mind perhaps we can more often employ our own intellect in deciphering what is in others best interests, as with vaccinations etc.?

  8. It’s a good thing to make contraception available for women around the world providing that you also educate them that it is the right thing for them to do. I have spoken with some women in Indonesia that are extremely poor and I wondered why they make so many babies if they know they can’t possibly feed them. They then told me that they hope that at least one of the babies will be able to support them when they’re old (luck game?). Therefore even if the contraception is available for FREE, they may not want to utilize it. Another reason that they told me was that their husbands are against it because they feel like it decreases sexual pleasure (for the men) and considering the women are depending solely on their husbands’ income, they usually follow whatever the husbands desire. 
    Would this be then a matter of economic or religious beliefs? 

  9. Seconded. The pope and his cardinals only say what Catholics are supposed to believe, not what they do believe. They live in a small, secretive and unhealthy enclave, practising politics and developing a theory of morality which is just as disconnected from the world as they are. And they think this is good.

    Don’t be churlish about Gates either. She’s determined to do good and putting her money where her mouth is.

  10.  I would argue that the Catholic opposition to birth control is hardly a “core” belief.  I seem to remember reading that Catholics in the west practise birth control as much as other people. Most priests in the west too, are pretty quiet about it and leave it up to individual conscience to decide.  In all the years I was a catholic, I don’t remember once a priest preaching about the evils of birth control.  It’s more a media thing.
      Also, although no doubt there is and has been paedophilia in the catholic church, I have read ( sorry , I can’t remember where) that the percentage of priests who have transgressed is no greater than that of  the general population.  Certainly in New Zealand, we have heaps of cases of sexual abuse by Protestant pastors, Salvation Army people and others who have run orphanages and have had unbridled power over children.
     I think you are demonising all catholics.  There are many liberals in the church in spite of the current conservative heirarchy. Deluded they may be, but they are not evil.

  11. “I would argue that the Catholic opposition to birth control is hardly a core belief”

    We can quibble about the word core but the fact is that it is part of Catholic dogma. If we were talking about many other religions you might have a point. Most religions don’t have a hierarchical system with one supreme ruler at the top who decides what everyone believes. The fact that most Catholics don’t actually believe what the Pope says they must is just an indication that they are hypocrites whose religious beliefs are not thought through. They are Catholics because their parents or spouse are Catholics.

    As for the priests not talking about it have you been following the news in the US? The Catholic bishops (the guys who are the boss of the priests) have been fighting as hard as possible to prevent Catholic hospitals, which want to participate in the US healthcare system, from providing birth control to women. Or read Christopher Hitchens book The Missionary Position about Mother Theresa. Her real value to the church was not to relieve the suffering of those in need but to be a standard bearer for the fight against contraception in the third world.

  12. “I have read (I can’t remember where) that the percentage of priests who have transgressed is no greater than that of the general population”

    As I hope people who have read my comments would mostly agree I usually try to be polite and rational no matter what. But I draw the line at people who defend pedophiles. Everyone has areas where they have a hard time being rational. For me its people who rape children. Crazy I know. Anyway I call Bullshit on your statistic which you read somewhere and can’t remember where.

    And even if your ridiculous unsuported claim were true there is still an aspect of the Catholic church you are ignoring. The Catholic church has functioned as a criminal enterprise for pedophiles. No different than the Mafia except as bad as drugs and murder are raping children is even worse. Time and again priests who raped children were not reported to the police and instead were moved to a different parish where they could rape again. And the church has really done nothing significant to change. They now claim that they have changed some policies but if they were serious, if they cared more about children than about protecting their rapist priests and their bottom line they would institute real reforms with independent reviews and zero tolerance policies. They’ve done none of that. I can’t imagine how any responsible parent would send their children to a Catholic church.

  13. I would argue that the Catholic opposition to birth control is hardly a “core” belief.

    You would need to define “core”. It is a central tenet of the Catholic religion that having sex in a manner in which conception is not possible is a disordered activity.

    I seem to remember reading that Catholics in the west practise birth control as much as other people. Most priests in the west too, are pretty quiet about it and leave it up to individual conscience to decide. In all the years I was a catholic, I don’t remember once a priest preaching about the evils of birth control. It’s more a media thing.

    I’ve certainly heard them talk about the evils of abortion and the evils of using condoms to protect from HIV/AIDS.

    Also, although no doubt there is and has been paedophilia in the catholic church, I have read ( sorry , I can’t remember where) that the percentage of priests who have transgressed is no greater than that of the general population.

    Whether or not the rate of paedophilia is the same in the RCC or not it is clear that time and time again the RCC has acted to protect pedophile priests and often to move them to a new parish where they have a new group of children to prey on. It has put the interests of the Church above that of the victims and the future potential victims.

    I think you are demonising all catholics. There are many liberals in the church in spite of the current conservative heirarchy. Deluded they may be, but they are not evil.

    Evil is a very strong word. There aren’t many people I would apply it to. In my opinion the RCC is a morally bankrupt organisation that should treated with contempt by all governments.  Instead it retains enormous influence in most countries and throughout the UN system.  The question for individual catholics is why they stay in the Church and thereby lend it their implicit support.

    Michael

  14.  Yes, on reflection, you are right about the priests in the US..  I think I’ve been generalising from my own experience  in New Zealand which is probably quite liberal. I’ve been amazed by  controversy in the US about contraception.  I can’t imagine it happening here.
      As for why they are Catholics, that’s an interesting one.  I was a Catholic for many years, all the while holding quite different beliefs from “Catholic dogma.”  Like many others, I was a probably a ‘cultural catholic’.   I liked belonging to a group of people who had similar values ( the same ones I hold now) … I liked the rhythm of the liturgical year…   I liked the singing.  Even now that I am an atheist,  I miss parts of it.  For many Catholics, it’s a community thing  and the pronouncments of Pope and bishops don’t seem so important.

  15. Hey there, Red Dog.  I think if you read my post, I was in no way defending paedophilia or the covering up of such. I was simply saying that it was rife in lots of organisations, many run by churches, not just the Catholic church.   As a child brought up in the Catholic church I met many kind priests and never once a dodgy one. Nor did any of my  brothers or sisters.  Just saying.  Do you have statistics?

  16. “Also, although no doubt there is and has been paedophilia in the catholic church, I have read ( sorry , I can’t remember where) that the percentage of priests who have transgressed is no greater than that of the general population.”

    It has been found that the percentage of pedophile triathlon coaches and catholic priests is the same.
    1. The World Triathlon Federation does not protect the offenders.
    2. The World Triathlon Federation does not pretend to be a moral guide to anyone.
    (I mad this up, if anyone practices triathlon, please don’t be offended.)

  17. “A blatant attack on morality”? Yes, because letting millions of people contract and die of AIDS every year is the moral thing to do.

    Religious institutions like the Catholic Church shouldn’t be allowed to use the word ‘morality’.

  18. I commend Melinda Gates for her fight for womens rights. But, I would like to hear her state for the record that she is not a practising Catholic. A practising Catholic would not promote birth control through contraception. Melinda would be better off admitting that she does not support Ratsburger and his hysterical virgin Bishops. Melinda Gates is a cultural Catholic in the warm fuzzy sense that she supports family. This news article seems to avoid pointing out the blatently obvious, that Melinda is in opposition to the RCC when it comes to birth control.

  19. The Catholic Church heirarchy believes in the birth-control called mass starvation. I just love the hysterical “We are aborting ourselves out of existance” cries, when the population numbers on this planet would well and truly indicate otherwise.

    We are the first species capable of doing the maths in regards to water, food air and energy. Some just don’t like the results because it interfers with their dogma…

  20. “Gates… has been targeted by religious groups, which have described her mission as… an elitist effort at population control.”
    To call someone’s efforts elitist is like a backhanded compliment. I don’t think I’d be offended at being called elitist. And if you remove the word elitist, her mission to provide contraception is being described as an effort at population control, which is undoubtedly at least half the purpose of contraception (in addition with disease control, depending on method). How is any of this an argument against her actions?

  21.  These is based on the figures that a church funded report reported. However the BIG BUT is they refined the age what it meant to be a paedophile. In most countries if the child is around 12/13 yrs or younger . The report defined it as 10yrs and below. This gives  the appearance the number of priests that a paedophiles is the same as the general public – the numbers a fudged.   Apply the normal age and the figures become alot worst. (note these ages are from memory but there was significant change to make a difference).

  22. This is a well-advised and long overdue move by the Gates’. Not so much their 5 year US$18.5 million grant to establish the Male Circumcision Consortium in support of a “voluntary” circumcision drive in Africa sold as a a “Top-Tier HIV Prevention Strategy” based on the most shoddy of dodgy science: http://blog.practicalethics.ox

  23.  Thank you for your reasoned reply.  Just a  thought.

     There are many Catholics who think they can reform and modernise the church from within, just as there are many Americans who opposed the Vietanm war, or the war in the Middle East. By staying in the USA, have they lent their implicit support to these wars?

    BTW, I found a couple of references to the statistics to which I referred. 
    Catholic child abuse in proportion | Andrew Brown | Comment is free …

    http://www.zenit.org/article-3

    The report was put out by the church itself, which I hadn’t realised, so I don’t know how much it can be trusted.  But, hey, isn’t this website about reason and science and the search for truth?  Does being an atheist mean you have to hate religions, especially the RCC? 

  24. In fairness to Melinda Gates, it appears that some of her detractors on this thread have found her guilty by association. The arguments against her seems to go: if she’s in the Catholic church, and there are bad people in the church, she must be a bad person too.

    That argument makes little sense as it ignores the fact that, dare I say it, there are some, maybe even many, decent people in the Catholic church.

    From all the evidence of her good deeds, which can be Googled, Melinda Gates is a decent, nay, amazing woman who has done her bit for humanity.

    That she is involved in a church that has done lots of evil (and good), is a stain on her judgement but it does not eradicate every other good call she has made and continues to make in her life.

    Nor does it mean that she endorses the evil people that clearly exist in the church (and in the rest of society, for that matter).

    On balance, Melinda Gates (and her husband) have done lots of good for humanity.

  25. Gates, who is a practising Catholic, has been targeted by religious
    groups, which have described her mission as a “blatant attack on
    morality” and an elitist effort at population control.

    How can population control be an “elitist effort”? That doesn’t even make sense. Elitism requires a massive population by definition.

  26. It is excellent that a rational present use of foreknowledge is being exercised by her here: however it detracts not a jot from the positions religions take in deferring all foreknowledge to the brains of humans who wrote texts in previous millennia that they now browbeat all current intelligence with. This is the not-so-subtle point I think most are highlighting and must continue to do: religion, aka myth, is a haunting from past generations upon all present day thinking and needs constantly reminding this is the order of thought just as often as it continually preaches the order ought be reversed. Essentially, though it’s followers are often blinded by misinformation, it is a complete exploitation of the human brain: much as humans have always been prone to deal with each other!

  27.  There are many Catholics who think they can reform and modernise the church from within, just as there are many Americans who opposed the Vietanm war, or the war in the Middle East. By staying in the USA, have they lent their implicit support to these wars? 

    I think a better analogy is with being member of a political party.  Inevitably parties will support something you disagree with and if they are minor things you can probably live with it. But if they are major issues like wars or abortion then eventually a time will come when you have to accept you aren’t going to change the party from within and the best thing to do is to stop lending it your support and membership dues.

    Michael

  28.  
    In fairness to Melinda Gates, it appears that some of her detractors on this thread have found her guilty by association. The arguments against her seems to go: if she’s in the Catholic church, and there are bad people in the church, she must be a bad person too.

    I don’t think that is the argument people are making. I think the argument is that the Catholic Church is a bad organisation (e.g. protecting pedophile priests, opposing contraception and abortion and condoms to prevent HIV/AIDS) and by being a member and presumably paying her dues as it were she is supporting it and its policies.

    Michael

  29. I would agree with you that the number of evildoers in the catholic church is likely to be not much different than in any other organisation. Where I, and many, many other atheists, freethinkers, humanists etc have a huge problem is the deliberate, systematic protection of such evildoers by the organisation to which they belong. I would have the same detestation for ANY organisation og group which acted as the RCC has acted, religious or secular.

  30. I would love to see the debate shifted to when you can reasonably call a zygote, foetus, embryo.  I have some issues with abortion (although I acknowledge the need in many cases and woman’s right to make that choice) ,  I don’t know if I could. 

    However, Catholics and other fundamentalists (I don’t consider cultural Catholics, Catholics) need to acknowledge that keeping a sperm and egg apart via a bit of rubber or using the rhythm method only differ in reliability not in function.  If all sperm and eggs potential life then every egg should be harvested and every sperm frozen for latter use. For each is a ‘potential life’.  Highlighting this to them or forcing them to acknowledge this makes their own position untenable.  Why murder millions of sperm when they could all be saved and used?  Why waste eggs in menstruation?  Each should be fertilized.  Of course it does create a problem as there are by orders of magnitude more sperm than eggs.

    The debate needs to shifted to specifics like this instead of posed as a clash of cultural beliefs it’s giving cultural relativists room to hide.  

  31. The point you mention is one I would like more elaboration upon, in respects of all kinds of indoctrination. The premise, I think you are deferring to as a hard line,  is that  indoctrination per se is in no way responsible for any of the individuals behaviours and unbalanced activities and that it is the individuals whom are fully responsible for themselves. This idea is one we are often forced to apply due no real better alternative – but not because it is necessarily morally infallible. We have a logical contradiction if we insist upon this position as a universal constant: that indoctrination in no way disables human minds from an otherwise more balanced and socially proactive position; that the human is always responsible for all the ills that befall or are issued by them irrespective of their position of intellectually illogical weakness or disheveled credulity.

    The great legacy Christopher Hitchens left us rests in part upon how he insisted religion gets the good to think bad legitimate (often vice versa till their confusion imposes chaos), or gets them into being desperate and confused to a point beyond secular tolerance of it. This last point, I would insist, is one we are already lamentably over compromised upon. We tolerate religion to our collective demise, due it conspiring elements of kudos and etiquette: within its pyramid to privilege. It’s system: from affluence to poverty stricken; both in welfare, reasoning, social inclusivity and education; all have this tiered and relentless subversiveness as the footstool of each aspect of the human life per se.  Little of it conspires to adjust everyone to an equitable position of what can be asserted as worthwhile thought. In fact, poverty here, in the minds eye, is what humanity relies upon for its class enterprise! The peasant minded are indoctrinated everywhere and oft beyond the redemptions of a freethinkers mindset, such is the deliberate and “there’ll be no change on my watch” subversion. 

    This fundamental corruption, of the religious minded, is what freethinkers abhor about it: how ordinarily decent humans can and are, in no small numbers, corralled into positions of collateral damage and ruined lives, due the poisons of thought , growing up and emotion, that religion infects them and those around them with – in servility to an absolute shameful pack of lies surrounding the very heart of their organised mythology.

    In a word, it is a scam, constantly grasping at and practising charities in the hope it will hoodwink everyone for even more centuries into more remedial tolerance of its deceptive think tank! 

    Religion! Let us see the charity of transparency – ye great bully of all ages – and then lend us your charity as is our will also!

    No wonder the criminally motivated are so easily confused with the sincerely deluded by secular society. The poison of thought procedure insists on corruption from the outset, then claims holy inoculations at the sight of any challenge, both to its position as myth and to its corruptions of how its followers have had their heads and social links degraded beyond repair.

  32.   Reckless Monkey – Why murder millions of sperm when they could all be saved and used?>/b> 
    Why waste eggs in menstruation?  Each should be fertilized.  Of course
    it does create a problem as there are by orders of magnitude more sperm
    than eggs.

    I recall a “hymn” about that!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v… – This is a musical number from the second act of Monty Python’s “The
    Meaning of Life”. Please keep in mind the Catholic who is singing the
    lead does not believe in contraception… and neither do his many, many
    children, who are singing the backup. ( 7,753 likes, 201 dislikes
    – on the youtube site)

    Some of the balmy-bishops ad fundienuts went bananas when it was first produced!  It really sums up the viewpoint very well!

  33. At least in my country, it’s the so-called men of God who are encouraging the false beliefs that contraceptives have harmful side effects, so religion has a lot to do with this.

    I’ve also noticed that attitude among couples with many children. They refer to their children as “blessings from God.” In what way? The more children they have, the more people would look after them when they get older, and the more chances that one of them might become rich. And if you ask the husbands, there’s no way they’re going to use condoms because they claim to get no satisfaction with condoms on, they wouldn’t get a vasectomy because to them, it is as good as castration.

    Making contraception available is the easy part. It will take a long time for these attitudes towards it to change. It’s bad enough that it’s a tough job to go and try to educate people about their bodies. Enter the religious leaders who are spewing nonsense, confusing people, threatening them with hellfire for the use of condoms.

  34. I would have no problem defending the position that every member of the Catholic Church is a bad person. If you subscribe to the principles of that belief and to that organization you are not a nice person.

  35. Priests were (and those hiding away in that cynical “state” called the Vatican still are) protected by their superiors because in all likelihood the problem of pedophilia goes back a long time! It probably extends all the way up the chain of command…

  36. Thank you for that! Religion is driven by cynical opportunists and has been since ‘gods” were thought to be behind all those unexplained natural events that we increasingly understand through scientific observation!

  37. This looks like a good UK legal ruling!

     

    . A ruling that the Catholic Church can be held liable for the wrongdoings of its priests has been upheld. – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-e… –

    Last year Mr Justice MacDuff decided in favour of a woman who claimed
    she was raped and assaulted as a child by a priest of the Portsmouth
    Diocese.

    The Court of Appeal has upheld this decision, which raises
    “an issue of wide general importance in respect of claims against the
    Catholic Church”.

    A diocese spokesman said the case was about “fundamental legal principles”.

    The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, says she was
    assaulted as a child by the late Father William Baldwin, a priest of the
    Portsmouth Diocese.

    Lawyers for the claimant said of the ruling in November 2011
    that it was the first time a court had been asked to rule on whether the
    “relationship between a Catholic priest and his bishop is akin to an
    employment relationship”.

    A spokesman for the diocese said after the latest hearing:
    “This case is not, and has never been, about seeking to avoid or delay
    the payment of compensation to victims with valid claims.

    “This case is about fundamental legal principles involving the very nature of civil society and religious freedom.”

    “Fundamental legal principles and “religious freedom” – not dodging responsibilities”???
    Sounds like obfuscating theist speak to me!  Why would the reputable appeal?

  38. Well that’s nice, but she must give something. Can you imagine the conversation with her priest? “Sorry, but I cannot give to the church because it interferes with my philanthropy.”

  39. All these religious organizations are batshit crazy – contraception is a widely known method to improve the lives of women, especially those living in rural areas like rural India and Africa. To think that these religious organizations would lay claim to have the final word on morality is a travesty. “Population control” in many cases is in fact a GOOD thing – too many babies and too few resources means a lot of infants dying in childbirth and at a very young age. If I had as much money as fucking Bill Gates , I would do the same shit too, make sure contraception is widely available to everyone in the world 

Leave a Reply