The recent political "furor" about birth control surprised many American women who now realize they've been taking those options for granted. One woman confused by the controversy is smack in the middle of it: Melinda Gates.
At the TEDxChange summit in April, Ms. Gates noted that more than 1 billion couples will have sex with one another this year. (We must infer that she was referring only to heterosexual couples, or we're off on another subject.) Her idea is that "all these men and women should be free to decide whether they do or do not want to conceive a child."
Melinda Gates sees access to contraception as a public health issue, and she cites these stats:
- 100,000 women die every year in childbirth after unintended pregnancies
- 600,000 babies born to women who didn't want the pregnancy die in the first month of life.
- Access to contracepties is denied to more than 200 million people worldwide are
Of course, the eye of the $34 million Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation takes in the entire globe. Ms. Gates is the organization's co-chair. In July, the Foundation is teaming up with the British government to convene world leaders on the issue. Goal: Raise $4 billion to improve access to contraceptives by 2020.
Color me impressed, but here's the biggie:
Living 'outside the box', the Gates Foundation is searching for something entirely new to add to existing contraceptive options. Ideas include a device implanted inside a woman's body that she could control. Imagine having the power, for your entire reproductive life, to turn your birth control on and off at will.
Brave new world, indeed. But, not everyone thinks these ideas are positive, including conservative Catholics who feel Ms. Gates is betraying the religious teachings of her childhood.
If you think the Melinda Gates is leading her Foundation down the right path, let her know. A powerful new website linked to her contraception initiatives asks visitors "How have contraceptives changed your life?"
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