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Dismantling the « 98% of Catholic women use contraception » (bogus) statistic

To all those of you who honestly believed (or were shocked) by the Guttmacher Institute’s finding that « 98% of Catholic women use contraception », rest assured, this research does not fall into the category of reliable scientific research. Let’s take a look at several of the problems with their inclusion and exclusion criteria…

The survey was limited to women who are: 

(a) between 15 and 44. The White House and the Guttmacher Institute both assert that 98% of “Catholic women” “have used” contraception. But the data are restricted to the subset of women aged between 15 and 44. It tells us nothing about the views of women between 45 and 100. Is the White House implying that they do not count?

(b) sexually active. Why aren’t women who are not sexually active included? Presumably a proportion of Catholic women are single by choice and are observing the Church’s teaching. Don’t they count?

(c) not pregnant or post-partum. According to the report, “14% of married women are pregnant, postpartum or trying to get pregnant”. We aren’t informed what proportion of women are married, but it probably shaves a few percentage points off the 98%.

(d) seeking to avoid becoming pregnant. This is where the survey figures disappear beyond the looking-glass. It was restricted to sexually-active women, married and unmarried, who were seeking to avoid becoming pregnant. Thus all unmarried Catholic women who were not sexually active (there must be some of them) and all married Catholic women who wanted to become pregnant (ditto) were excluded. 

Using such restricted, biased inclusion criteria means the results of this study are not representative of the whole population of Catholic women. Please don’t be fooled…any study can be skewed by poor research practice. Thanks for sharing! 

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