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Wall Street Journal Examines Motivation Behind Melinda Gates’s Focus On Family Planning

The Wall Street Journal examines how traveling the world inspired Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to “ma[ke] a bold and controversial pledge to help women in the developing world get better access to contraception” a little more than a year ago. “Declaring family planning to be her priority issue wasn’t an easy choice for the Ms. Gates, 48 years old, who was raised Catholic,” the newspaper notes, adding, “Some Catholic groups … disagree with Ms. Gates’s stance.” But “[i]n her travels across sub-Saharan and South Asia over more than a decade, Ms. Gates says she had seen the same scene play out over and over,” the newspaper writes, adding, “Women she met with to talk about vaccines would ask her how they could get birth control,” such as Depo-Provera. The Wall Street Journal notes, “About 222 million women in the developing world in 2012 who were sexually active and did not want to get pregnant did not use modern contraceptive methods, according to the Guttmacher Institute.”

“At a summit last summer hosted by the Gates Foundation and the U.K. Department for International Development, donors pledged $2.6 billion — $300 million more than the hosts had hoped to raise — to bring voluntary family planning services to 120 million more women in the world’s poorest countries by 2020,” the Wall Street Journal continues, adding, “Gates also has her eye on reducing deaths of newborns, a cause to which the Gates Foundation also contributes” (McKay, 5/11).