This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

You can download an iPhone app for the 13th edition from the App Store (search for Weeks Population).

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Contraception is Not Controversial

As I have noted before, on 11 July 2012, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is helping to organize a Family Planning Summit in London. This is really important, in my opinion. Melinda Gates is an obviously very influential person in the world, and as a Catholic, her views on contraception are bound to sway opinions. She clearly understands this and has made available on the internet a lecture that she gave in April in Berlin at the TEDxChange. Here is her setup for the talk:

My argument is simple:
1. Birth control is an uncontroversial idea (practiced by a billion people) that has unfortunately become controversial.
2. As a result, hundreds of millions of the poorest families in developing countries don’t have access to contraceptives that can change their lives—and their children’s lives.
3. If we all start talking about how transformative birth control can be—and how important it has been in our own lives—we can help poor women and men empower themselves and spur large-scale economic development.
I loved getting ready for the talk over the past several months, reading up on the literature and talking to experts from several continents. It was a thrill to deliver it, finally, after so much preparation.
Keep in mind that the talk is 25 minutes in length, so if you are using this in class, you will essentially have Melinda Gates as a guest lecturer!


  1. The Catholic Church is not against contraception, it is against artificial contraception. That is a very important distinction.

  2. That distinction is essentially meaningless when considering effectiveness and practicality.