And the statistics, if accurate, show that Catholics practice contraception at almost the same rate as other religious groups.
A new report from the Guttmacher Institute, the nonprofit sexual health research organization, shows that only 2 percent of Catholic women, even those who regularly attend church, rely on natural family planning.
The latest data shows practices of Catholic women are in line with women of other religious affiliations and adult American women in general.
“In real-life America, contraceptive use and strong religious beliefs are highly compatible,” said the report’s lead author Rachel Jones.
She said most sexually active women who do not want to become pregnant practice contraception, and most use highly effective methods like sterilization, the pill, or the intrauterine device (IUD).
“This is true for Evangelicals and Mainline Protestants, and it is true for Catholics, despite the Catholic hierarchy’s strenuous opposition to contraception,” Jones said.
Nearly 70 percent of Catholic women use sterilization, the birth control pill or an IUD, according to the Guttmacher Institute research.
The numbers are slightly higher among women who identify as Evangelicals or Mainline Protestants, research showed.
- 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 among Catholic women (98%).
- Among sexually active women of all denominations who do not want to become pregnant, 69% are using a highly effective method (i.e., sterilization, the pill or another hormonal method, or the IUD).
- Some 68% of Catholic women use a highly effective method, compared with 73% of Mainline Protestants and 74% of Evangelicals.
- Only 2% of Catholic women rely on natural family planning; this is true even among Catholic women who attend church once a month or more.
- More than four in 10 Evangelicals rely on male or female sterilization, a figure that is higher than among the other religious groups.
As a few readers have pointed out, Guttmacher isn’t exactly impartial on this issue. They have an agenda. Its Wikipedia entry notes that it is “a semi-autonomous division of The Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Center was renamed in memory of Alan Frank Guttmacher, an Ob/Gyn and former president of Planned Parenthood.”
So: consider the source.