[message type="error" show_close="false"]The Lie: The Obama administration said, “…most women, including 98 percent of Catholic women, have used contraception.”[/message]
[message type="success" show_close="false"]The Truth: According to their own study it can only legitimately claim: “at least 24 percent of Catholic women have used contraception”.[/message]
Ever since President Obama came out with his HHS Mandate “compromise” I’ve seen the “98% of Catholics use contraception” statistic everywhere. Here are some of my favorites:
“Nearly 99 percent of all women have relied on contraception at some point in their lives –- 99 percent.” – President Obama (source)
“According to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, most women, including 98 percent of Catholic women, have used contraception.” – Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council (source)
“In fact, 98 percent of Catholic women use birth control at some point in their lifetimes.” – NPR (source)
And this one from “ghoti” is very typical of what you will find in the comments section of Facebook, YouTube and random news articles:
“Who gives a rats %$$ what the church says. 98% of Catholics don’t… they use contraception. #@*% those child molesters. Their time has passed… irrelevant.” (source)
This lie has spread rapidly. It is a blatant misrepresentation of Catholic women.
The study that the Obama administration is citing is from the Guttmacher Institute (source). The Guttmacher Institute was founded by Planned Parenthood, and takes it’s name from a former Planned Parenthood president (source). Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of contraception and abortion in this country. They have a vested interest in making the HHS Mandate come to fruition.
Using statistics from the Guttmacher Institute when trying to increase access to contraception, is like using statistics from the tobacco industry when trying to increase access to cigarettes.
The term “Catholic” is loosely applied in the study. Only 30% of the Catholic women interviewed attended mass on a weekly basis. What is more revealing though, is that the study only includes:
- Women between the ages of 15 and 44
- Women who had sex within 3 months of the survey
- Women who did not want to get pregnant <–read that one again
So, the study which, according to the Obama administration, speaks for “all Catholic women” does not include:
- Women who were abstaining from sex until they were married
- Women who were married and wanted children
- Women who were pregnant or post-partum
- Women who were open to the possibility of getting pregnant
Nevertheless, the study is being used by The Obama administration as a study that represents all Catholic women. In reality, less than 28% of Catholic women would actually qualify for this study to begin with (see the footnote data).
The study doesn’t actually say 98%. That number was arrived at by subtracting the 2% of women who use Natural Family Planning, a method approved by the Church. The 98% number completely ignores the 11% of respondents who answered “no method of sterilization”. So, if we subtract the 2% and the 11%, it equals only 87% of the women studied actually used a form of contraception.
Finally, it comes down to simple math. 87 percent of the 28 percent of Catholic women this study actually applies to, equals only 24 percent of all Catholic women.
The Obama administration said, “…most women, including 98 percent of Catholic women, have used contraception.”
According to their own study they can only legitimately claim: “at least 24 percent of Catholic women have used contraception”.
How we arrived at the “less than 28% of Catholic women would actually qualify”:
- According to the 2010 U.S. Census (source), only about 41% of females are between the ages of 15 and 44.
- Using the birth rate of the U.S. (source) we can assume that about 4% of women are pregnant at any one time.
- According to Indiana University’s 2010 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (source), about 27% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 did not have sex within that past year (this percentage would be much higher if we had data from only the last 3 months).