Thursday, June 29, 2006By DAVID CRARY, AP National Writer
NEW YORK — Warren Buffett’s new philanthropic alliance with fellow billionaire Bill Gates won widespread praise this week, but anti-abortion activists did not join in, instead assailing the two donors for their longtime support of Planned Parenthood and international birth-control programs.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to which Buffett has pledged the bulk of his $44-billion fortune, devotes the vast majority of its funding to combating disease and poverty in developing countries. Less than 1 percent has gone to Planned Parenthood over the years.
"The merger of Gates and Buffett may spell doom for the families of the developing world,"said the Rev. Thomas Euteneuer, a Roman Catholic priest who is president of Human Life International.
Referring to Josef Mengele, the infamous Nazi death camp doctor, Euteneuer said Buffett"will be known as the Dr. Mengele of philanthropy unless he repents."
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America issued statements praising Buffett and Gates for their generosity. Gloria Feldt, a former Planned Parenthood president, said she was appalled by the harsh attacks on them.
"What an outrage that these people have the gall to cast aspersions on other citizens for standing up for what they believe,"Feldt said Thursday."They have no right whatsoever to criticize people who put their money where their mouths are."
The foundation founded by Buffett, and now named after his late wife, Susan, came under fire from some anti-abortion groups in the 1990s after it gave $2 million to fund clinical trials of mifepristone, more commonly known as the RU-486 abortion pill. The foundation also has supported various abortion-rights and family-planning groups, and Susan Buffett was eulogized after her death in 2004 as a champion of women’s reproductive health.
Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, wrote a commentary this week holding the Buffetts partially responsible for the approval of RU-486 in 2000.
"Since then, approximately 500,000 American babies have been killed with RU-486,"Perkins wrote."Buffett’s billions have the potential to do damage like this on a global scale."
Staff at the Susan T. Buffett Foundation office in Omaha, Neb., said its executive director, Allen Greenberg, would have no comment on the criticisms.
The Gates Foundation also is a patron of reproductive-health programs, funding research on new contraceptive technologies and initiatives to improve access to birth control.
Planned Parenthood, which is the leading provider of abortions in the United States, has received $34 million from the Gates Foundation over the years _ out of a total of $10.5 billion in grants worldwide, according to foundation spokeswoman Jacquelline Fuller. She said the foundation does not fund abortion services, earmarking the grants for other Planned Parenthood programs.
Joseph D’Agostino, a spokesman for the anti-abortion Population Research Institute, said the foundation position"is simply dishonest."
"Abortion services are the primary mission of Planned Parenthood,"he said."If you fund one side of an organization, that frees them up to transfer funds to the other things they do."
Feldt confirmed that the Gates Foundation stipulated that its gifts to Planned Parenthood not be used for abortion services. But that policy has not spared Bill Gates’Microsoft Corp. from anti-abortion protests over the years.
At the 2003 annual shareholders meeting, anti-abortion activists cited Microsoft’s support for Planned Parenthood during an unsuccessful attempt to stop the company from directly contributing to charities.
Beyond the issue of abortion, some critics oppose the Buffett and Gates foundations’support for global family-planning and population control programs.
"Some of the wealthiest men in the world descend like avenging angels on the populations of the developing world,"wrote Population Research Institute president Steven Mosher, a frequent critic of Gates and Buffett."They seek to decimate their numbers, to foist upon vulnerable people abortion, sterilization and contraception."