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Magazine Writer to Melinda Gates: Is Pope 'Hurting Efforts' on Women's Health By Opposing Birth Control, Abortion?

Deborah Solomon to Melinda Gates, co-chair of a foundation working for women's health in developing countries: "Do you think the pope is hurting efforts on behalf of women's health by preaching against the use of birth control?...As a champion of women's health, you presumably favor abortion rights?"

Deborah Solomon puts together the "Q&A" for the Times Sunday Magazine where her liberal beliefs often peek out between the lines of the ostensible fact-finding question-and-answer process. This week the focus of her questions was Melinda Gates, wife of Bill, who serves with him as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, whose $33 billion endowment makes it the largest private foundation in the world. It's aim is improving the health of women in developing countries, but Solomon seemed most interested about abortion, an issue dear to the hearts of American feminists.

After Gates said she'd attended a Catholic high school in Dallas, Solomon queried Gates: "Do you think the pope is hurting efforts on behalf of women's health by preaching against the use of birth control?"

Gates responded: "I think we need to have birth-control tools all over the world. And he has a different position on that. But for me, I don't choose to be part of the Catholic Church based on a particular set of rules he's got or not. I base it on the faith that I have over time having been part of that church."

Solomon went on to ask: "As a champion of women's health, you presumably favor abortion rights?"

Gates demurred: "The foundation doesn't take a position on abortion. We do take a position on reproductive-health tools. Women around the world should have a tool that helps them plan their pregnancies."