Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a Catholic, is telling governments to dismiss the controversial link between contraception and population control and explicitly rejects Catholic social teaching along the way.  Her rhetoric is part of her multi-billion dollar foundation’s new “NoControversy” campaign to reinforce universal access to birth control as a priority in the developing world.

Speaking at a TedxChange conference in Berlin, Germany, Gates argued that contraception has been mistakenly associated with population control, abortion, forced sterilization, and mortal sin and insisted they are “side issues” that “have attached themselves to the core idea that men and women should be able to decide when to have a child.”

Yet even Gates herself admitted that for years population control and contraception have become synonymous in the developing world, with countries like India “adopt[ing] unfortunate incentives [and] coercive methods as part of their family planning programs” in the 1960s and indigenous women in Peru being “anesthetized and sterilized without their knowledge” as recently as the 1990s.

Though these coercive practices may have fallen out of favor, it may be far harder for organizations like the Gates Foundation to separate their own promotion of contraception entirely from population control.

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