Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Case for Contraception on the Global Agenda

April 26, 2012

I have learned a lot from following the reaction to the talk I gave at TedxChange two weeks ago. My talk was about the uncontroversial idea that all women and men should have the power to plan for their lives and give their children the chance at a healthy and productive future. One of the ways they can get that power is through access to birth control, and I tried to make the case for why the world should put birth control back on the global health agenda.

Because I’m so passionate about the issue, I’m excited to see so many people talking about it online. The more people talk, I think, the more they’ll realize how much agreement there is around the basic argument that birth control saves lives and helps families build a better future.

 
I believe in giving women the methods they want to use so they can do what’s best for themselves and their families.

In my talk, I spoke a little bit about my own Catholicism and how it fits in to my advocacy around this issue, since the Catholic Church officially prohibits the use of modern contraceptives. Many people have asked whether I support natural family planning methods like the rhythm method that the Church supports.

The answer is, unequivocally, yes. I support putting options and power in the hands of women and their husbands, period. While available evidence indicates that modern contraceptives—for example, pills, injectables, implants, and intrauterine devices—are more effective, I realize that there are families that are not comfortable using modern contraceptives for religious reasons or other matters of conscience. That is their right, I respect it deeply, and I believe they should have access to the most appropriate education and tools to follow through on their plans for their children.

The large majority of women do want to use modern contraceptives, and I also support giving them options that are right for them.

I believe in giving women the methods they want to use so they can do what’s best for themselves and their families. In some cases, that means natural family planning. In many cases, it means modern contraceptives. I hope we can agree that there really is no controversy around this idea.

 
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