FOREIGN AFFAIRS: by Peter WestmoreNews Weekly
Has Gates Foundation stopped funding abortion?
, July 5, 2014
Controversy has arisen over the announcement by Melinda Gates, wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will no longer fund abortions.
Up to the present, the Gates Foundation has been a major donor to international abortion campaigns conducted by United Nations agencies and bodies such as Marie Stopes International and International Planned Parenthood.
The announcement was made in an elliptical way on a web site of the Gates Foundation, in a blog called Impatient Optimists. On it, Melinda Gates recently posted an article headed, “Reflections on My Recent Travels”.
In it, she described recent trips she had made to Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Germany and Canada, where she met leaders to advance the foundation’s work to support projects in the developing world, particularly those directed at child and maternal health.
She said, “This week has made me even more optimistic about the future. In each stop of my travels, I’ve heard more passion than ever about making sure women and girls have access to the health care they need for their families to lead productive and rewarding lives.
“When I was in Canada, however, an issue came up that worries me. I sat with Prime Minister [Stephen] Harper for media interviews in Toronto, and while most of the conversation had to do with the impact of Canada’s commitment to RMNCH [Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health], every journalist also focused on Canada’s policy on abortion.
“Let me tell you why this worries me.
“Around the world there is a deep, broad, and powerful consensus: We should provide all women the information and tools to time and space their pregnancies in a safe and healthy way that works for them. This approach is simple, it works, and it saves lives.
“The question of abortion should be dealt with separately. But in the United States and around the world the emotional and personal debate about abortion is threatening to get in the way of the life-saving consensus regarding basic family planning.
“I understand why there is so much emotion, but conflating these issues will slow down progress for tens of millions of women.
“That is why when I get asked about my views on abortion, I say that, like everyone, I struggle with the issue, but I’ve decided not to engage on it publicly — and the Gates Foundation has decided not to fund abortion.”
If that last sentence of Melinda Gates is confirmed, this would signify a major change in direction, even if it is announced in such an obscure way.
The web site of the Gates Foundation confirms that in the past the foundation has indeed funded abortion on a vast scale. In 2012 alone it gave over US$56 million to International Planned Parenthood and over US$46 million to Marie Stopes International.
What appears to indicate a possible change of heart on the part of the Gates Foundation is that, following the controversy over its funding for abortion, it gave no grant to Marie Stopes International in 2013 or 2014, and there is no grant listed for International Planned Parenthood for 2014.
However, the Gates Foundation continues to support other agencies, including the UN Fund for Population Activities, which promotes abortion. The foundation gave this agency about $US3 million in 2013 and is to give it a further $US4 million in the course of this year.
Although Melinda Gates’ unexpected statement on abortion was widely publicised, international pro-life organisations have been sceptical, if not disbelieving.
The head of Human Life International (HLI), which had earlier criticised the Gates Foundation for funding abortion, described the claimed change as an “outright deception”.
Speaking from Bogota, Colombia, HLI president Father Shenan J. Boquet said: “The Gates Foundation has in the past and will continue to give tens of millions of dollars to the largest abortion-providers in the world, including International Planned Parenthood Federation and Marie Stopes International. These large sums of money will undoubtedly expand the reach and influence of the abortion industry.
“And while Ms Gates claims to only be focused on contraceptives, what is often not discussed in public about these drugs and devices — and certainly not disclosed to the women in the developing world who receive Ms Gates’ contraceptives — is their potential to cause abortions at the earliest stage of pregnancy.”
He added: “Conception can still, and often does, occur even when these methods are being used, and that new life in the womb is then destroyed due to their effects on a woman’s body.
“The Gates Foundation and their partners have pledged to spend billions to push these abortion-causing drugs and devices onto poor women in Africa, Asia and Latin America who are already suffering and in need of genuine development aid.
“And as Human Life International’s pro-life missionaries have seen first-hand in Africa, the methods Ms Gates is promoting worldwide are not only killing pre-born lives, but destroying women’s health due to their dangerous, and sometimes deadly, side-effects.”
He concluded by challenging the Gates Foundation to immediately stop their “multi-billion dollar effort to push abortifacients on impoverished women in the developing world”.