Melinda Gates: ‘Gates Foundation Has Decided Not to Fund Abortion’

Michael W. Chapman | June 11, 2014 | 1:01pm EDT
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Bill and Melinda Gates. (AP)

( – Melinda Gates, wife of Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, said the international family planning and anti-poverty group founded by them, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “has decided not to fund abortion.”

In a June 2 statement on the website of the foundation, Melinda Gates explains that she recently sat down for interviews in Toronto, Canada, and while reporters asked about the newborn and child health initiatives of the foundation, “every journalist also focused on Canada’s policy on abortion.”

“Let me tell you why this worries me,” she said.

Gates then explained that spacing “pregnancies in a safe and healthy way” is an approach that works and  “saves lives,” but “the question of abortion should be dealt with separately.”

“[I]n the United States and around the world the emotional and personal debate about abortion is threatening to get in the way of the lifesaving consensus regarding basic family planning,” she said.

Human baby in the womb. (AP)

“I understand why there is so much emotion, but conflating these issues will slow down progress for tens of millions of women.”

She continued, “That is why when I get asked about my views on abortion, I say that, like everyone,  I struggle with the issue, but I’ve decided not to engage on it publicly—and the Gates Foundation has decided not to fund abortion.”

“I understand that the abortion debate will continue, but conflating it with the consensus on so many of the things we need to do to keep women healthy is a mistake,” she said.  “We have made such great progress for women on prenatal care, on providing the contraceptives that they want, and on encouraging proper care and nutrition for newborns, and we need to keep moving forward.  The only way to do that is to be clear, focused, and committed.”

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation currently has an endowment of $40.2 billion. It supports programs and provides grants in the United States and in more than 100 countries. “In developing countries,” the foundation “focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty,” states the organization on its website.

Melinda Gates was reared a Catholic and graduated from the Ursuline Academy in Dallas, Texas in 1982. She earned her undergraduate degrees at Duke University and an MBA from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business in 1987. She went to work for Microsoft where she met Bill Gates and, in 1994, they were married. The Gates have three children.

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