This month the Guttmacher Institute (the research arm of Planned Parenthood) released an analysis of contraceptive use in the United States among women who claim a religious affiliation. It shows that 25% of the women aged 15-45 surveyed in the latest round of the National Survey of Family Growth claim to be Catholic. However, just 3 in 10 of these women attend Mass weekly, 1 in 10 never attend Mass, and the remaining 6 in 10 attend monthly or less frequently. Among these self-identified Catholics, 32% are sterilized (or their male partners are), 31% are using hormonal contraceptives, 5% use an IUD, and only 2% use some form of NFP. For perspective, the use of any NFP method regardless of religious affiliation in this same survey is 0.2%.
The article concludes as follows: “This research suggests that the perception that strongly held religious beliefs and contraceptive use are antithetical is wrong – in fact, the two may be highly compatible.” The logic here strikes me as amazingly twisted: since a lot of women who call themselves Catholic use contraceptives, contraceptive use must be morally right.
I find it ironic that this report is published in the very same month we Americans started a Civil War over slavery 150 years ago. I’m sure if the Guttmacher folks had been around in 1861 their survey of southern citizens belonging to a religious group would have concluded that since the majority of citizens have slaves, it’s morally correct and therefore the country need not fight this war.
As we conclude our Lenten observations and move toward Easter, we should all pray for the emancipation of women from the slavery of our culture’s insistence on contraception.