Catholic bishops in Kenya are pushing back hard against the Kenyan government’s involvement in a campaign orchestrated by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in partnership with the British government to spend billions on promoting contraceptives in the developing world.
“The drive by foreign agencies … to target millions of girls and women in Africa for the artificial family planning programme by the year 2020 is unimaginable, dangerous and could lead to destruction of the human society and by extension the human race,” His eminence John Cardinal Njue, chairman of the Kenya Episcopal conference, wrote in a statement this month. “We cannot allow our country to be part of an international agenda, driven by foreign funds and by so doing, losing our independence and our African values of the family and society.”
The statement was in direct response to a news article confirming that Kenya was among the countries officially supporting Melinda Gates’ $4.6 billion push for contraceptives at the London Summit on Family Planning on July 11.
“The aim of the government is to control the current population growth rate,” according to the Daily Nation newspaper in Kenya.
Kenya’s National Council for Population and Development (NCPD) projects that the population will hit 64 million in 2030 if the growth rate remains constant.
“The Catholic Church in Kenya believes that 64 million people are not too many with proper planning where corruption, nepotism and individual egoistic trends are absent and a responsible government is in place,” wrote Cardinal Njue.
“It is not clear why such a large amount of money is being used for contraceptives while many women are dying daily due to lack of proper medical care, food and housing,” Cardinal Njue wrote. “If such money or a portion of it was used to develop the under-developed parts of Kenya, the so-called threatening population of 64 million people in the year 2040 would be too low.”
The Gates Foundation claims that improved access to contraception will save lives and improve the economic conditions of nations like Kenya. Melinda Gates labeled the campaign “No Controversy” despite the numerous controversial issues associated with using contraceptives.
For example, the Gates Foundation funded a study reported in The Lancet Infectious Diseases which found that women using hormonal contraception, especially injectable methods like Depo-Provera, were at increased risk of contracting and spreading HIV. According to the United Nations, 6.3% of adults between the ages of 15 and 49 in Kenya are living with HIV. The deadly virus has left 1,200,000 children without parents in the country.
“At a time when our people are greatly affected by HIV/AIDS … we cannot go further to condone efforts at reduction of life,” the Kenyan bishops said in their statement.
Hormonal contraceptives are also associated with a significantly increased risk of breast cancer according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Cancer Research.
Human Life International (HLI) recently produced a two-minute video of young women from around the world addressing Melinda Gates and stating some of the reasons why contraception is controversial, including the harmful medical side-effects associated with its use.
“Did you know that many types of oral contraceptives are classified as Group-1 Carcinogens by the World Health Organization? That’s the same as cigarettes and asbestos. How is this good for our health?” the women ask in the video.
Gates is also under fire for claiming that her contraception campaign does not violate her self-professed Catholic beliefs despite the Catholic Church’s firm position that artificial contraceptives are immoral. Gates even went so far as to say in an interview with CNN that she would contradict Pope Benedict XVI on Catholic teaching about contraception if she ever met the Holy Father face to face.
Like Gates, Kenya’s government believes that population control is the key to economic prosperity.
A 2009 National Housing & Population Census report from the Kenyan government claims that current population growth rates are unhealthy, especially in supporting the realization of the Vision 2030, a government program designed to produce what it calls “a globally competitive and prosperous Kenya.”
“Currently, Kenya is adding one million people yearly to its already high population,” the census report stated. “This high rate of population growth has adverse effects on spending in infrastructure, health, education, environment, water and other social and economic sectors.”
But Kenya’s Catholic bishops are appealing to all Kenyans to “reject this plan” by the government to embrace the global push for contraceptives which according to Cardinal Njue “threatens the moral fabric of the society and is an insult to the dignity and integrity of the human person.”
“We the Catholic Bishops in Kenya warn all Kenyans and the government that any development which does not protect the human person is meaningless and in vain. What is the use of development without all people and visions without values? Any development must be for the common good of people, as their security and protection.”