Great news for reproductive healthcare across the globe: last week in Newsweek, Melinda Gates announced that her central philanthropic issue moving forward is family planning! Historically, the Gates foundation has not funded abortion-related programs, though they have funded some family planning programs during their tenure. I am elated at her decision to bring access to contraception into the global healthcare conversation!
Melinda and Bill Gates (of Microsoft) are the founders of a massive philanthropic organization called The Gates Foundation, whose core belief is that “all lives have equal value.” This multi-billion dollar nonprofit supports both domestic and international efforts to curb poverty and improve the health and well-being of people in need. Further, when the Gates Foundation commits to a project, world leaders pay attention, and media attention follows.
In an article published last week on The Daily Beast, Gates discussed her struggles balancing her Catholic faith with her desire to assist the global need for contraception. I strongly recommend checking out the article – it’s very well written and very interesting!
What this landmark decision means is more funding for international contraceptive programs, and investment in research dedicated to improving and (even inventing!) effective contraception. As a member of a Planned Parenthood affiliate that conducts clinical research trials, my mind is bending at what opportunities may come. (By the way, did you know Planned Parenthood does medical research? We’re the leading reproductive healthcare provider in the United States, and one day we plan to be a leader in reproductive health research, too.)
A final flower in this bouquet of great news is the website they launched called “No Controversy,” which asks people from all over the world to share stories of how contraception has changed their lives. From their website: “There is no controversy in matters of equality. More than 200 million people worldwide don’t have access to contraceptives. Everyone deserves the tools they need to improve their life and provide opportunities for their children. The power to decide if and when to have a child has far-reaching impact for families, communities, and nations. Raise your voice for equal access to contraceptives. We all have a story. What’s yours?”
The site includes a stream of photos and text from people all over the world, sharing their stories of how contraception has helped them or changed their life. I’ve been hoping for an online community that raises awareness and normalizes contraceptive use for a while now, and I think they struck gold with this one. Check it out, add your story … because all people deserve the right to family planning.