Melinda Gates defies the Vatican over birth control: the reaction around the world
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Thursday 12 July 2012
Yesterday, at a family planning summit in London, the billionaire philanthropist and practising Catholic Melinda Gates made a historic pledge: She vowed to dedicate her life to improving access to contraception for women in the developing world, backing up her words with a $560m donation to family planning services.
The Independent praises Mrs Gates, “That Mrs Gates is a devout Catholic only adds to the commendation she deserves for her efforts to address the issue,” and Saska Graville in women’s magazine Red contrasts her achievement with the sad fate of Eva Rausing, another billionaires in the news this week. Charlize Theron (@CharlizeAfrica) speaks for Hollywood's many philanthropists with an interest in Africa: “Did you guys see this video from @melindagates and @gatesfoundation? So powerful – check it out!”
Praise from other sources has been more muted. Al Jazeera's Manuela Picq accuses Gates of ‘let them eat cake’ irrelevance: “Approaching contraception as the one silver bullet is misguided. In healthcare, it is usually not one thing, but a broader array of factors, an integrated healthcare system that saves lives.”
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan also urges caution. Last month he told the BBC of the cultural difficulties surrounding birth control “It is difficult for you to tell any Nigerian to number their children because…it is not expected to reject God’s gifts.”
Meanwhile, Gates’s Vatican-flouting stance has been predictably controversial in the Catholic press. Matthew Hanley of The Catholic Herald criticises a “fundamentally evasive approach to maternal and infant mortality”, arguing that “artificial contraception, by virtue of the resulting collapse of marriage, has had an impoverishing effect [in the developed world] – even if the affluent consider it a routine accessory.” She has, however, been publicly supported by the nuns of the Ursuline Academy of Dallas who issued a statement proclaiming themselves “Proud of Melinda French Gates, her dedication to social justice, her compassion for the undeserved…”
As Time magazine points out, in the US especially, her pledge has political as well as religious resonance: “conservative religious groups, particularly in the US have tried to link family planning to forced abortion. In 2002, President George W Bush cut funding to the UN Population Fund completely, turning birth control in to a bad word. The cause has yet to recover. Backing from Gates, a Catholic who is respected by conservatives and liberals alike, could turn this around.”
- 1 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 2 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 3 David Beckham's Haig Club whisky is exactly what’s wrong with the Highlands
- 4 Queen's first tweet: Reply telling Her Majesty to 'f*** off' broadcast on BBC News
- 5 #AskNigelFarage: Twitter starts hilarious Q&A for Ukip leader
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Tony Blair 'says Ed Miliband will lose 2015 general election'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Putin: The US is to blame for almost all the world's major conflicts
Poppy Appeal 2014: This is why I won't be wearing a red poppy this year
£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...