In a recent letter to the editor, a reader took issue with some figures presented by a previous letter. I've looked up the data and want to clear the air a bit.
The Guttmacher Institute recently released a study on the matter, and there's been some confusion about the statistic that the media has been quoting that "98 percent of all Catholic women have used birth control".
Here's what the study actually shows, as verified by both The Washington Post Fact Checker and Politifact.
Of all women of reproductive age (defined as 15-44 years old) who have ever had sex, 99 percent have used a method of birth control other than natural family planning at some point in their lives. For this same group of women, 98 percent of those who self-identify as Catholic report using a birth control method other than natural family planning at some point in their lives.
Now, even this is somewhat misleading because it includes women who have had sex and are no longer sexually active as well as those who used contraception only once.
However, the figure is still quite telling. The Catholic church has been telling us that any method of contraception other than natural family planning (and this includes sterilization) is against scripture. When 98 percent of women of breeding age who consider themselves to be Catholic and have had sex have also used a contraceptive of any kind, it kind of indicates a vast majority of sexually active Catholics disagree with the scripture.
Of course, the argument can be made that the scripture is right regardless of what those women choose to do. I'd like to point out, though, that the very same argument was once applied to banning interracial marriage, to slavery, and to beating disobedient children to death. Just because something is in the scripture, it doesn't make it right. Intelligent societies know this, which is why interracial marriage is legal, slavery is illegal, and brutally murdering disobedient children is illegal. The Catholic church has recognized that it was wrong on those issues. It's time that the Catholic church recognize that it is wrong on contraception and marriage equality as well.
Bryan J. Sebeck