April 10, 2012 — Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in a speech at the TEDxChange conference in Berlin said universal access to contraception for women in developed and developing countries could save hundreds of thousands of lives annually, SeattlePI reports.
Gates, who is Catholic, said, "Some people think contraceptives are code for abortion, which they're not. Some people are uncomfortable because contraceptives have to do with sex. Some people worry that the real goal is to control populations." She added, "All of these side issues have attached themselves to the core idea that men and women should be able to decide when to have a child. As a result, birth control has almost disappeared from the global health agenda."
According to Gates "one of the simplest and most transformational things we can do is give everybody access" to birth control. She said sub-Saharan Africa and poor regions in South Asia have the largest need for contraceptives. She called for a goal of "universal access to the birth control that women want," which requires "rich and poor governments alike [to] make birth control a priority."
"We are talking about giving women the power to save their own lives and their children's lives -- and to give families the best possible future," she said (Connelly, SeattlePI, 4/6).