Warren Buffett and his philanthropic foundation named for his wife, the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, have given millions in donations to hospitals and family planning organizations to help fund research on contraception, specifically intrauterine devices or IUDs.
Though the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation largely keeps its donations anonymous, a Thursday report in Bloomberg Business revealed that the organization has funneled millions to fund better and more cost-effective methods of birth control.
“Buffett alone will give more than all of the other foundations combined in reproductive health,” Judith DeSarno, the foundation’s former director for domestic programs, said in a 2008 interview for a reproductive health oral history project, according to Bloomberg. The interview had not previously been made public.
DeSarno said in 2008 that Buffett wanted to fund research on contraception and reproductive health.
“For Warren, it’s economic. He thinks that unless women can control their fertility—and that it’s basically their right to control their fertility—that you are sort of wasting more than half of the brainpower in the United States,” she said, according to Bloomberg.
Buffett, the founder of Berkshire Hathaway, initially donated much of his share of the company’s profit to the foundation, which in turn donated to groups like Planned Parenthood. But when the company acquired Pampered Chef in 2002, anti-abortion activists that targeted the company pushed Buffett to stop publicly supporting research on contraception, according to Bloomberg.
Then in 2006, the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation hired DeSarno, who had previously served as president and CEO of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, and she helped push the organization to help fund research on contraception, according to Bloomberg. She demanded that donations from the foundation remain anonymous, according to Bloomberg.
Between 2007 and 2013, the foundation gave $20 million to the Contraceptive Choice Project at Washington University in St. Louis, the largest medical study on IUDs, according to Bloomberg.
And Bloomberg reported that between 2007 and 2013, the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation donated a total of about $100 million to family planning groups in Iowa and Colorado to help change the perception of IUDs in the U.S. And more recently, the foundation helped fund a low-cost IUD, Liletta, which became available in April, according to Bloomberg.
Read more about how Buffett helped fund research on IUDs at Bloomberg Business.