Is the latest Democratic talking point that real Americans use contraceptives? “There’s no controversy around contraceptives,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) tells Ed Schultz on his radio broadcast yesterday. “There’s a few, some in the Catholic church and maybe some evangelical churches, I don’t know, that thinks that it’s wrong,” Schakowsky elaborates, “but none of the American people follow that.” So no Catholics or evangelicals are Americans? Breitbart News and Naked Emperor News brings us this curious argument:
This appears to be based on the equally curious argument that 98% of all Catholic women use birth control, a meme pushed by the Left in response to the outrage over Obama’s diktat. The Washington Post demolishes this highly misleading allegation, pointing out that the study that advocates use to claim that says no such thing:
I called up Rachel Jones, the lead author of this study, to have her walk me through the research. She agrees that her study results do not speak to all Catholic women. Rather, they speak to a specific demographic: women between 15- and 44-years-old, who have been sexually active and who are not attempting to become pregnant.
“If we had included women up to age 89, we would have probably found a lower proportion had ever used artificial contraception,” said Jones. “But the policies being implemented right now are ones that don’t effect them. Right here and now, we’ve got 98 percent who have ever used a contraceptive method, who are not attempting to get pregnant. Those are who will be impacted by this.”
Jones’s study does not find that 98 percent of all Catholic women have used contraceptives. What it does, however, bear out is the claim that many have made with this statistic: that sexually-active, Catholic women do tend to use contraceptives at the same rate as their non-Catholic counterparts. On that front, Jones looked at women who had been sexually active within the past three months. You can see the results of that question in the chart above, where contraceptive use of Catholics look virtually identical to those of all women.
The study didn’t survey a representative sampling of all women, or all Catholic women, or even all Catholic women of childbearing age. The survey limited itself to sexually-active women of childbearing age who want to avoid pregnancy — and it included natural family planning as a contraception method, which is approved by the Catholic Church (although only 2% use that strategy in this survey). Needless to say, that’s a rather narrow group, and one hardly representative of Catholic teaching on openness to life. The limiting factor of “not attempting to become pregnant” predisposes the group to be employing some form of birth control strategy, which is an example of begging the result. Even with that narrowly-defined scope, 11% of Catholic women in the group didn’t use contraception, which would make it 89%, not 98%, and 87% if one includes NFP for those sexually active while attempting to avoid pregnancy.
Even if one accepts the notion that a majority of American Catholics and other Christians don’t follow their church’s doctrine on contraception and abortifacients, that doesn’t mean the government has the authority to force those religious organizations to violate their doctrine by mandating that they fund or facilitate access to those products and services. This is the point that Michael Ramirez drives home in today’s editorial cartoon at Investors Business Daily:
Zombie actually lifted the artwork from a virulently anti-Catholic tract producer called Jack Chick Publications, which is entirely appropriate for the literal and figurative return of Know-Nothingism to American politics.
Also, be sure to check out Ramirez’ terrific collection of his works: Everyone Has the Right to My Opinion, which covers the entire breadth of Ramirez’ career, and it gives fascinating look at political history. Read my review here, and watch my interviews with Ramirez here and here. And don’t forget to check out the entire Investors.com site, which has now incorporated all of the former IBD Editorials, while individual investors still exist.