Do 98% of Catholic Women Use Contraceptives?


#1

Apologists for the administration’s abortion pill & contraceptive mandate are pointing to statistics that say as many as 98% of Roman Catholic women use contraceptives in defiance of the teaching of their church. This is then used to encourage Democrats to not back down from the mandate, despite what the bishops say, as if rank and file Catholics will support the Obama administration anyway.

It turns out, though, that the 98% numbers are yet another way to lie with statistics, as Mark Misulia explains, quoting an analysis linked in the post:

The study excludes women who are not sexually active, where this is defined as “sexual intercourse in the past three months,” postpartum, pregnant, or women trying to get pregnant. The study was designed to “include only women for whom a pregnancy would be unintended and who are ‘at risk’ of becoming pregnant.” It is not clear whether the study includes women who are neither trying nor not trying to become pregnant. . . .

“The deliberate design of the study to cover only women who, at the time of the study, were having sexual intercourse while regarding a pregnancy as unintended would be likely to make it unrepresentative of Catholics and particularly unrepresentative of devout Catholics. Yet the study is now being cited to show the percentage of Catholic women generally who are not following the teaching of the Catholic Church in this area…a statistic based on a study that explicitly excluded those who have no use for contraception is obviously irrelevant to a question about the percentage of Catholic women who have a use for contraception!”

The fact that women who are celibate, postpartum, and those not trying to avoid pregnancy are excluded is enough. That such a misrepresentation is being used as leverage in serious political discourse is truly unfortunate, regardless of the content of the study, and says as much about contemporary American politics as the mandate itself.

via firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2012/02/14/the-bogus-98-percent/

Here is how Mollie Hemingway puts it, analyzing in more detail the original study from the Guttmacher Institute (which happens to be an organization affiliated with Planned Parenthood):

So I guess we could say that among women aged 15-44 who had sex in the last three months but aren’t pregnant, post-partum or trying to get pregnant, 87 percent of women who identify as Catholic used contraception. It’s worth pondering just who is left out of this 87 percent, other than, you know, everyone who doesn’t use contraception.

getreligion.org/2012/02/lies-damned-lies-and-98-of-catholic-women/

Certainly lots of Roman Catholics don’t follow their church’s teaching in this matter, but that doesn’t change the right of the church to set those teachings, as they themselves for the most part surely realize.


#2

This is from the blog of Gene Veith:
Do 98% of Catholic women use contraceptives?
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by GENE VEITH on FEBRUARY 15, 2012
in FAMILY,LIFE ISSUES,MEDICINE,SEX
Apologists for the administration’s abortion pill & contraceptive mandate are pointing to statistics that say as many as 98% of Roman Catholic women use contraceptives in defiance of the teaching of their church.* This is then used to encourage Democrats to not back down from the mandate, despite what the bishops say, as if rank and file Catholics will support the Obama administration anyway.

It turns out, though, that the 98% numbers are yet another way to lie with statistics, as Mark Misulia explains, quoting an analysis linked in the post:

The study excludes women who are not sexually active, where this is defined as “sexual intercourse in the past three months,” postpartum, pregnant, or women trying to get pregnant. The study was designed to “include only women for whom a pregnancy would be unintended and who are ‘at risk’ of becoming pregnant.” It is not clear whether the study includes women who are neither trying nor not trying to become pregnant. . . .

“The deliberate design of the study to cover only women who, at the time of the study, were having sexual intercourse while regarding a pregnancy as unintended would be likely to make it unrepresentative of Catholics and particularly unrepresentative of devout Catholics. Yet the study is now being cited to show the percentage of Catholic women generally who are not following the teaching of the Catholic Church in this area…a statistic based on a study that explicitly excluded those who have no use for contraception is obviously irrelevant to a question about the percentage of Catholic women who have a use for contraception!”

The fact that women who are celibate, postpartum, and those not trying to avoid pregnancy are excluded is enough. That such a misrepresentation is being used as leverage in serious political discourse is truly unfortunate, regardless of the content of the study, and says as much about contemporary American politics as the mandate itself.


#3

Agreed. I find this argument to be incredibly weak. Father Robert Barron was on EWTN radio today and he commented on how there are many tenets of Catholicism that many Catholics do not follow, such as nonviolence, not coveting goods, not lusting, etc, but that doesn't mean that it's ok to just toss these beliefs out. It really makes me wonder if even the politicians who are supporting this mandate believe that it respects freedom of religion...


#4

The way I heard it discussed by TV personalities is "98% of Catholic Women have USED contraceptives in their lives. It did not refer to those who are actively using them with the intent of preventing a pregnancy, but rather those who have ever used them before. I am not proud of it, but I have used contraceptions at a point in my life in my past, but I do not plan to use them ever again. Based on the wording of the question, I would be part of the 98%, i'm sure like many Catholics out there. It can be hard to drive sin out of our lives once we let it in. Now the American government is making every citizen pay for these things that are against God's will; things which I worked hard to remove from my life yet they are being brought back in through no choice of my own.


#5

[quote="Kc906, post:4, topic:273858"]
The way I heard it discussed by TV personalities is "98% of Catholic Women have USED contraceptives in their lives. It did not refer to those who are actively using them with the intent of preventing a pregnancy, but rather those who have ever used them before. .

[/quote]

Yes, and for that reason the 98% figure is misleading. The real point is that women who identify as Catholic use contraception at the same rate as non-Catholic women.
washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/have-98-percent-of-catholic-women-used-contraceptives-not-quite/2012/02/14/gIQAZszTDR_blog.html

Does this matter? As another member pointed, just because many Catholics commit a sin doesn't mean that the sin should be tolerated or promoted.

I think the reason the use of contraception among Catholics is an issue is a contention that the bishops may be theological leaders on such matters, but politically they are not representing a large percentage of Catholics.


#6

Ya I'd say it's true.


#7

As someone who thinks abortion is murder (in my atheist days though I didn't think so, being under the common illusion "it's just a bunch of cells"), but who doesn't have a problem with artificial contraception (or artificial hearing aids - I wear one; artificial sight correction - I wear specs as well; artificial heart bypasses, artificial limbs, artificial joints, artificial anaesthetics for surgery; artificial means of transport etc.), I went looking to see if there was any survey other than the White House favoured one (which is dominating the search options at the moment) and I found the following. It dates back to 2002, but I would think attitudes were probably similar then to now.

lifeissues.net/writers/feh/feh_28religion_contraception.html

One ironic comment I noted was that -

"One reason that "faithful" RC women - those who frequent church and believe that their religion is very important - had more frequent use of sterilization (than less-faithful Catholics) is that sterilization is a one-time event. Couples can have the sterilization surgery, confess to a priest, and then be back in the grace of God and the Church. The constant use of the pill and/or condoms, on the other hand, requires either frequent confession or a guilty conscience. This sterilization and one-time forgiveness process was first speculated by Professor Leslie Woodcock Tentler (from Catholic University of America) in her book Catholics and Contraception; An American History.7"

This peculiar by-product of the ban on the pill reminds me of the two Irish ladies who were having a fight. "You're lucky, Patricia me girl!" cried Shaneen Murphy, "It's Sunday and I'm in grace, or I'd really let you have it! But just you wait till Monday! I won't be in grace then!"

As far as I'm concerned, artificial contraception in the form of the pill was** God's idea, given at the very time that population pressures were becoming a real problem in some parts of the world, develop largely through Catholic researchers, and approved for use by married couples by two committees, including bishops and cardinals, set up by John XXIII and Paul VI themselves./B

I don't think Paul VI made a wise decision. Personally I think if John XXIII had lived longer, he'd have made a different ruling. But that's only my opinion.

The fact is that as a whole Roman Catholic women in the US and the West in general are not very much different from the rest when it comes to the use of contraception.**


#8

[quote="IggyAntiochus, post:1, topic:273858"]
It turns out, though, that the 98% numbers are yet another way to lie with statistics

[/quote]

Does this surprise anyone?

Wake up America!


#9

Certainly, if the poll had been taken among all "practicing" Catholic women of childbearing ages, the % using birth control would be zero or nearly zero, if some of the women polled mistakenly understood NFP to be considered a form of birth control.

The 98% figure comes from a poll that excluded most Catholic women and did not differentiate between those women who were baptized Catholic but don't attend Mass on a regular basis, ie. practicing Catholics vs. actual Catholic women. They just made the poll say what they want it to say, it's crazy.


#10

[quote="Kc906, post:4, topic:273858"]
The way I heard it discussed by TV personalities is "98% of Catholic Women have USED contraceptives in their lives. ** It did not refer to those who are actively using them with the intent of preventing a pregnancy, but rather those who have ever used them before. ** I am not proud of it, but I have used contraceptions at a point in my life in my past, but I do not plan to use them ever again. Based on the wording of the question, I would be part of the 98%, i'm sure like many Catholics out there. It can be hard to drive sin out of our lives once we let it in. Now the American government is making every citizen pay for these things that are against God's will; things which I worked hard to remove from my life yet they are being brought back in through no choice of my own.

[/quote]

This is the biggest flaw in the argument that some people are trying to make. Some of the most ardent anti-contraceptive Catholics came to that stance by seeing the error of their past actions. Not to mention the entire generation of women who were never taught that contraception was a mortal sin and/or who had marriage prep that didn't even address family planning.

If someone once told a lie, repented and confessed it, would you classify that person who disagrees with the 8th commandment?


#11

If they think that 98% of Catholics have used contraceptives, then why do they think there is an accessibility issue when it comes to getting contraceptives?


#12

I attended a Pro Life rally in January and a Pro Life doctor came to the podium...in practice for many years...progesterone, estrogen and the Pill are carcinogenic.

A woman shared with me her doctor told her all these hormone effecting pills have been a cause of cancer. The whole use of the Pill is political.

It is the USA that taught China the One Child Policy.

There is alot of willful ignorance out there...and American women are obsessed with the poor of Africa....happiness is relative.

Everything that Pope Paul VI foresaw came true.

When a country has become obsessed with sex, it has lost its faith in God....Cardinal Manning.


#13

lifesitenews.com/news/white-house-claim-that-98-of-catholic-women-use-contraception-a-damned-lie


#14

[quote="Polycarpenter, post:11, topic:273858"]
If they think that 98% of Catholics have used contraceptives, then why do they think there is an accessibility issue when it comes to getting contraceptives?

[/quote]

The issue is over insurance coverage.


#15

[quote="Corki, post:10, topic:273858"]
This is the biggest flaw in the argument that some people are trying to make. Some of the most ardent anti-contraceptive Catholics came to that stance by seeing the error of their past actions. Not to mention the entire generation of women who were never taught that contraception was a mortal sin and/or who had marriage prep that didn't even address family planning.

If someone once told a lie, repented and confessed it, would you classify that person who disagrees with the 8th commandment?

[/quote]

Another factor that I haven't seen addressed in an of the 98% is the distinction between practicing and non-practicing Catholics. We are a weird demographic as far self-identification goes. People who leave other Churches don't say "I'm a Baptist" or "I'm a Lutheran" nearly as often as a lapsed Catholics will say, "I'm a Catholic." Why is this? Is it something about our sacramentology? I couldn't predict just how much impact it could make on a survey if they failed to consider that difference, but given the obvious biases behind such numbers, I could guess the distinction is not involved.

I personally know so many Catholic women that do not use contraceptives, like my wife, my mom, my neighbor across the street, that I cannot believe that the number of such women could possibly be as low a two percent. Sure, I keep pretty conservative company, but 2%? really? I recently spoke at a diocesan catechetical event on the subject of religious freedom and talked about the HHS mandate. Not one person in the room was ready to speak out for contraception, and I got a lot of vocal support. Obviously, these are very committed Catholics I am talking about, but the fact that a moderately large number of the catechists in my diocese were gung ho to accept the Church's teaching would suggest that more than 2% of the congregations were one board too. How transparently false can a statistic be and still get quoted?


#16

I also read a study that showed that of the American people 85% think contraception is moral. That's a huge majority, but if 15% of the population at large thinks birth control is at least potentially objectionable, then the 98% statistic would imply that Catholics are significantly more in favor of contraception that the national average, by just over a factor of seven. How preposterous.


#17

This percentage isn’t from insurance coverage.


#18

[quote="Polycarpenter, post:17, topic:273858"]
This percentage isn't from insurance coverage.

[/quote]

I didn't say that. I answered a different question.

The question was "... why do they think there is an accessibility issue when it comes to getting contraceptives?"

The issue is not about accessibility, it's about insurance coverage.


#19

I would guess it is off by 5 % due to the fact that some (like me) use it for medical reasons and not for birth control reasons.


#20

[quote="CathyMary, post:19, topic:273858"]
I would guess it is off by 5 % due to the fact that some (like me) use it for medical reasons and not for birth control reasons.

[/quote]

5%? That is more than I'd have guessed. It's worth noting that Nancy Pelosi quoted the statistic specifically to indicate that that number of Catholic women used artificial contraception specifically to regulate the size of their families, although the study in question didn't provide any evidence to specify the purposes for which they used contraceptive drugs.


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