Bill and Melinda Gates in happier days / flickr World Economic Forum

Just three months after announcing the breakdown of their marriage after 27 years, billionaire Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda, have finalised their divorce.

Gates, now 65, is the world’s fourth richest man, with an estimated fortune of more than US$131 billion, and the financial settlement could leave Melinda, 56, with $65 billion. Despite the split, they will continue in their leadership roles at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Lauded as philanthropists by the media — many outlets of which, coincidentally, have been the recipients of Gates largesse — less mention is made of the billionaire couple’s interest in population control alongside their Foundation’s more practical assistance for the poor of the world.

Melinda, a vocal advocate of “gender equality”, has claimed that “when women control their bodies and their futures, they unlock a cycle of empowerment that reverberates for generations to come”.

She clearly believes that women would be happier going out to work than looking after their own children at home – and how much more convenient and “empowering” for giant corporations if their bodies were controlled and their fertility artificially repressed.

Being the wife of a mega-rich man has no doubt helped Mrs Gates to be equal, but the aim is not to help poor women achieve equality with her – rather, it is about her generously giving poor women the opportunity to be “equal” with men by sacrificing their opportunity to have children.

And as Bill Gates frankly admitted in a 2010 TED talk: “The world today has 6.8 billion people. That’s headed up to about nine billion. Now, if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by, perhaps, 10 or 15 percent.” 

In philanthropists’ parlance, “women’s health” means contraception, “family planning” means abortion, and “reproductive health” means stopping reproduction.

The equality of billionaires seems to consist of depriving poor people of their children rather than sharing their wealth equally with the poor. Although on a very simplistic level such “philanthropists” reduce world poverty by reducing the number of poor people, their Malthusian approach is based on the premise that saving lives means that the lives thus saved will produce more lives; and because saving lives cancels out the financial savings to be made by letting the poor die, it is a good idea to prevent the lives of their children.

By following this path the developing world will end up like the developed world, with too few children to support the growing numbers of elderly. But no doubt someone will have the solution to that too – a final solution to too many old people.

The Gateses have three grown-up children, but are happy to deprive the poor of what to them is not a financial burden but an asset. As a poor woman once said, “stock’s as good as money” (meaning that children were as good as material wealth).

How much better for the poor, for their own children and for their own happiness if Bill and Mel cancelled their marriage break-up, broke up their population control empire and spent their fortune on really helping the poor?

Ann Farmer lives in the UK. She is the author of By Their Fruits: Eugenics, Population Control, and the Abortion Campaign (CUAP, 2008); The Language of Life: Christians Facing the Abortion Challenge (St...