Guttmacher did say in its summary that “Among all women who have had sex, 99% have ever used a contraceptive method other than natural family planning. This figure is virtually the same, 98%, among sexually experienced Catholic women.”Tom and I were talking about the "numbers game" as the government's justification for HHS mandate just last night over dinner (yes, riveting conversation goes on at our house).
But that’s not in any way an accurate statement of what its own survey found.
On the very same page, it explains that its survey was restricted to women aged 15-44, so that cuts out all women who were older than 44 at the time of the survey. And a footnote explains that a rather significant chunk of women were excluded from this figure of “all women” — namely, women who are pregnant, post-partum or trying to get pregnant.” A later footnote says that the only women who had sex in the last three months were included in this group. Finally, included in this 98 percent figure of current contraceptive users are the 11 percent who report no method.
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. Great stat, team journalist! I mean, the study was designed to find only women who would be most likely to use contraception. And it did.
You can see why this story from GetReligion, Lies, Damned Lies and 98 Percent of Catholic Women, resonated with me. Go read the whole thing to see them examine how the media and the White House have been using these flawed numbers. Go read it to get an eyeful about just how painstaking a lot of these journalists are about what they report.
As Tom pointed out, even if that number were actually true it doesn't make the Church's teachings any less true. It certainly doesn't change our responsibility to try to live by those teachings. And it doesn't mean that our religious freedom can be overrun by the government because they have decided our teachings aren't really being followed. That's not their job.
It just means the Church is full of sinners. So, nothing new there, right? Because we're all human and, therefore, flawed.
Which is something I take comfort in, actually, since it means that I'm among friends who all know just how much we need our Mother the Church. Friends and the Church who help me get back up after I've fallen short, and then try again to follow in Christ's steps.
By the way, the White House closed the previous petition against the HHS mandate when Obama came up with his noncompromise. Now there's a new one. Go here to sign it.