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July 16, 2012 at 4:00 PM

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Melinda Gates pledges contraception aid to third-world countries

Focusing on women

Thank you, Melinda Gates for your courage in focusing on contraception for the women of the world [“Breaking down barriers to birth control,” page one, July 12].

If only our own government leaders (and followers) had just half your intelligence!

— Kay Yockey, Bainbridge Island

Don’t ignore sex selection

Melinda Gates’ contraceptive campaign to reduce poverty by reducing third-world birthrates seems to ignore a desire prevalent in many regions to use sex selection, as well as contraception, in limiting family size.

As Mara Hvistendahl demonstrates in her book “Unnatural Selection,” when members of third-world and developing countries decide to reduce the number of children, they start by reducing the number of daughters. Demand for sons is so great that laws prohibiting sex selection have little or no effect. Cheap, portable ultrasound machines, originally designed to save lives, are widely used in Asia to identify prenatal baby girls for elimination.

The social consequences of a world full of men is already being felt in Asia. Over 160 million women are now missing, and a booming market in brides traded from poorer countries like Vietnam to wealthier ones like Taiwan and Korea has been the result. New technology that can determine fetal DNA from parents’ blood early in pregnancy will only increase the gender disparity.

— Deborah Collenburg Ummel, Bellevue

Please give Melinda Gates a standing ovation

In the front-page article, “Breaking Down Barriers to Birth Control,”Melinda Gates announces her $1 billion commitment to provide the world’s poorest women access to contraceptives. The pluses to this approach are clear, but it’s her acknowledgment of her Catholic faith and the role it played in her decision that makes me want to jump up and applaud.

Identifying herself as a practicing Catholic, Gates admits, “Of course I wrestled with this. [there are] amazing things about this religion ... but I also have to think about how we keep women alive.” In this simple statement, Gates steps beyond a narrow religious dictum to reveal how her faith works in a much larger way. Putting cold ideology aside, she shows us the heart of the matter — real people are suffering because they lack the means to plan their families, something we take for granted. Isn’t this a pure example of the Bible’s instruction to help our neighbors as ourselves?

Bravo to Melinda Gates for speaking out. It’s a bold example that shows how religion, instead of saying “no” to family planning, is much more relevant when it says “yes.”

— Amber Wong, Seattle

Abortion has nothing to do with when life starts

If we would look at any one person in the world and ask, “What would have happened if that person’s mother had had an abortion two to three months into her pregnancy?” the answer would be that that person would not be here today — that that person would have been prevented from being born. So why can we not say that abortion prevents would be persons from being born?

Abortion has nothing to do with when life starts, it has to do with preventing life from starting. And who gets to decide, why the mother, of course. Abortion is not just one more medical procedure, it has nothing to do with when life starts, it has only to do with the convenience of the mother. She is given that normally God-given authority to say when someone shall not be permitted to live. Sure, sometimes that mother’s life hangs in the balance, but every time, some unborn person’s life hangs in the balance.

Let’s stop weaseling around and decide what life really is and when it really starts, get rid of fertility clinics, make more use of adoption and stop killing the unborn for our convenience.

— Robert Stephens, Des Moines

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Uh, Mr. Stephens? This article is not about abortion. MORE
Sex selection is an important topic - but one that has little to do with contraception... MORE
Providing women the power of birth control is an issue not even anywhere near abortion... MORE

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