What’s Wrong with the World

The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.


What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

The administration gets a tad nervous?

Well, this is interesting. My ever-alert friend Neil A. Manson has brought the following discrepancy to my attention. Just yesterday, this link to an infograph at Barack Obama's web page was readily accessible. Click on it (and get a full page cap before it completely disappears). You will notice a couple of things. First it includes the claim that "98% of Catholic women have used contraception." Second, look at the URL, and you will see that it was apparently accessible from www.barackobama.com/women as a portal.

Now go here. Look around. See if you can find any link to that infograph. Let me know if I'm missing something, because I can't find it now. There is this link to a much less snazzy information sheet on the healthcare mandate (could it have been put up in haste?), but that sheet does not contain the statistical claim about 98% of Catholic women!

What it looks like is as though the administration has gotten a bit antsy, in approximately the past twenty-four hours, for some reason (ahem) and has broken the link from its /women portal to the graph containing the claim about Catholic women. This means that that graph is now readily available only to someone who previously had recorded the complete URL or via a cache, a page save, or something like that. (As I said, get your page saves now, because it may become invisible before too long.) In other words, it looks like it's been turned into a private link and the place of that graph taken by something that, while it claims that 99% of all women have "ever used contraception," does not contain any comparable claim about Catholic women. (The 99% statistic also has some question marks around it. See my comments here and here.)

If a retraction of the 98% statistic isn't going to be forthcoming, perhaps we should consider this disappearance the next best thing.

Comments (13)

The not-so-snazzy infosheet also contains this little sequence:

- Overall, 62% of the 62 million women aged 15–44 are currently using a method. [Guttmacher Institute, accessed 8/3/11]

- Almost one-third (31%) of these 62 million women do not need a method because they are infertile; are pregnant, postpartum or trying to become pregnant; have never had intercourse; or are not sexually active. [Guttmacher Institute, accessed 8/3/11]

- Thus, only 7% of women aged 15–44 are at risk for unintended pregnancy but are not using contraceptives. [Guttmacher Institute, accessed 8/3/11]

- Among the 43 million fertile, sexually active women who do not want to become pregnant, 89% are practicing contraception. [Guttmacher Institute, accessed 8/3/11]

Did you notice that the "31%" figure still mismanages the group that is not the target group for this contraception coverage? They are supposed to be "do not need a method" because either they can't get pregnant or they are "trying to get pregnant." Nobody notices that you can be NEITHER trying _to get_ pregnant, nor trying to NOT get pregnant.

In any case, this claims puts the "not-using" figure at 7%, and claims 89% for the percentage contracepting of those who do not want to become pregnant, which is clearly not readily consistent with the "98% of Catholic women" meme.

I haven't gone back to the Guttmacher document to check where they are getting all of those numbers even as assertions in that document. For example, where in the document does it actually say or try to say what percentage of women overall of women "do not need a method"? I don't recall seeing any figure for that in there and will have to check it again. Perhaps they are adding two numbers from different places in the document? By my recollection the only figure for numbers pregnant, trying to get pregnant, etc., was for _married_ women, not for _all_ women, and it was 14%, so...

This looks a bit hasty, however you slice it.

If they ever do decide to double down on something closer to 98%, I expect them to lean real, real hard on "have ever used" and to try to rope in all the women who have, perhaps, only been involved in contracepted intercourse once or only long ago, thus ginning up the numbers. I believe that may have been their original idea, but a) they haven't even yet managed to substantiate that from the published statistics for Catholic women (!) and b) once one stops to think about what a darned uninteresting number that is concerning the on-going or present or expected future use Catholic (and other) women have for contraception, it doesn't seem like such a smart thing to lean on, unless one is just trying to get some number that sounds high. I suppose that still may be rhetorically important to them at some future date, but for the moment, the disappearance of the original pie-graph page from easy access indicates a bit of pulling back.

Yeah, hasty: Look at this: If you check out figure 3 in the Guttmacher document, you'll see that 1% even among "all women" are using NFP. Hence, even if they are counting all "other methods" as contraceptives for their purposes, that would come to 88%, not 89%. (11% using no method plus 1% using NFP equals 12%. 100% minus 12% equals 88%.) Only one percentage point they overlooked (which happens to be NFP usage), but still, a sign of haste.

Moreover, the "other" category, which is I believe about 5% more, is stated by the document to consist mostly of withdrawal. Against Catholic teaching to be sure, but, uh, not requiring coverage by an insurance company. No cost, in other words. And since this is being used as a figure for "use contraceptives" (notice the plural word) in the context of what people allegedly "need" money for, well...

Not sure if you posted this elsewhere (I am sure you have as you are very thorough), but when discussing NFP in this whole mandate discussion NFP is not considered nor marketed as a form of contraception, especially from a Catholic perspective, though these groups seem to think it is. Even though the end result may be the same, i.e. no pregnancy, married couples who practice NFP are consistently open to creating a new life, period. When practicing NFP fully you are a) planning to have a child, or b) not planning a child. The "not" includes the only natural means of preventing a pregnancy -- abstaining from intercourse just prior to and during a woman's fertile time of her cycle. And guess what, when my wife and I have had intercourse during those aforementioned times of her cycle, we've become pregnant five times and we have three wonderful children we're raising (unfortunately two pregnancies ended in miscarriage). We've been blessed and realize this isn't always the case for every couple hoping to conceive. When we've had intercourse accordingly within her infertile times, no pregnancy. But this takes a lot of work, planning (basal temperature charting, etc.), communication, acceptance of not satisfying one's (my) sexual urges at fertile times, etc. but our marriage is much fuller and richer because of it. We're fortunate that her cycle is consistent. As I said, this is not always the case for women. My hope is that this small bit of soapboxing will clarify for some that NFP is NOT a contraceptive choice but rather a lifestyle of planning or avoiding pregnancy without unnatural, external means as the name so aptly describes.

Once again, misinformation and misrepresentation by PP, Guttmacher Institute, and other pollsters seems to lump, define and tag NFP as a contraceptive choice. NFP married couples are not unnaturally trying to stop a pregnancy from occurring, rather they are choosing the best times to embrace the life giving act of marital copulation. The morality of this whole discussion is for another thread. Thanks.

Does anybody other than Guttmacher have the dollars to do a separate study on this?

I ask, because I'd really like to see a more complete and detailed study capable of showing correlations between orthodoxy and avoidance of artificial contraception.

My suspicion is that the more orthodox/traditional within their faith a person is, the lower the usage of artificial contraception generally, the lower the usage of sterilization or abortifacients, and the larger the family size. I notice a lot of Evangelicals with large families, for example, have heard many of them discuss a moral obligation to avoid abortifacients, and have heard some of them (albeit far fewer) discuss a need to avoid artificial contraception altogether.

So a really good study ought to ask some questions which distinguish the Easter-and-Christmas purely cultural "little-c catholics" from EWTN-watching, Daily Mass Attending, Perpetual Adoration Volunteering Catholics. I guarantee you that the latter group, when it tries to avoid conceiving at all, mostly does so through NFP.

Dan, you're quite right that there is confusion on this in those doing the surveys, particularly in charts that list NFP as a "method of contraception" and then take an aggregate of "women in such-and-such a group who have ever used some method of contraception." If you look at the linked comments from the main post where I question even the "99% of all women have used contraception" statistic, you'll find that I make that point there.

The Guttmacher summary (I need to be careful to stop calling it a study, a point I'll address in response to R.C. in a moment) is specifically directed toward Roman Catholicism--that's pretty evident. (As I put it in a radio interview I did the other day, it's more or less an "analysis" of statistics that the Guttmacher authors data-mined out of the NSFG data to try to stick it to the Catholic Church.) For that reason, the Guttmacher assertions _claim_ to be recognizing a distinction between NFP and non-NFP, and they do make claims about "non-NFP methods" and so forth. They still find it convenient to use a phrase like "methods of contraception," but they allegedly and notionally understand the relevant distinctions. Whether they can back up their claims is another matter!

R.C., one thing I need to clarify, that I probably should have emphasized more in my earlier post, is this: Guttmacher did not actually do a study. That is to say, researchers from Guttmacher did not go out and make up a survey and collect data. Rachel Jones and her co-author are not social scientists who did the data collection. They're just "researchers" for Guttmacher who looked at some data from this other, _gigantic_ study of all manner of personal statistics and made up some charts about it and wrote up some prose about what they claimed to find there.

The actual survey is called the National Survey of Family Growth and is funded by the U.S. federal government, the Centers for Disease Control--the CDC. It's done every few years and collects data on everything you can imagine and plenty of things you probably can't imagine related to sexual intercourse, fertility, sexually transmitted diseases, and on and on, documented by things like religious affiliation, race, age, etc.

Now, from what I've seen concerning the 2002 NSFG, and from what Guttmacher's document asserts about the 2008 NSFG, it _did_ collect data on things like how often people go to church. I believe some versions have collected data on questions like, "How important is religion in your life?"

Researchers who then analyze the data and are able to get copies of the raw data (which requires special software, sometimes institutional affiliation, and so forth) can indeed look for correlations of the kind you are talking about.

One discussion I saw from 2002 by an obviously very devout Catholic writer actually found some odd correlations. As I recall and as I understood him (I was reading fast) he concluded from the 2002 NSFG that more serious Catholics had higher rates of sterilization than less serious Catholics (!) but lower rates of condom and birth control pill use. He conjectured that this might be because of the theory that they could be sterilized, be confessed and absolved, and then move on in life (still sterilized), whereas constant use of non-permanent methods left them with a chronic bad conscience. That was just a theory, however.

I am confused. It seems to me a moot point to ask sexually inactive women how often they use contraception. Isn't that like asking Brooklyn residents how often they use bear spray?

Sigh. Eric Stewart, if you want to make a claim about either how many women of a particular religious denomination have used or are using contraception, then you want to include those who are not using contraception and even those who never have. Otherwise your statistic is just pre-fabricated to yield a particular result. Speaking in statistical terms, if a question is, for example, how _typical_ it is of Catholic women, even Catholic women between the ages of 15-44, to use contraception of various kinds, then you want to get what is known as a representative sample with respect to that property (using contraception). By deliberately leaving out women *on the grounds that* they are not having sex and thus will not be using contraception, you bias your sampling away from women who are not using contraception, so your resulting statistic cannot be said to be a fair and representative sample with respect to the property "is using contraception."

To take your bear spray example, suppose the question were, "What percent of the residents of the State of New York use bear spray?" In that case, yes, you would want to sample residents of urban areas in New York, such as Brooklyn, because if you deliberately left them out ("Of course they aren't going to use bear spray!") your resulting statistic would give the impression that New York State residents generally use bear spray at a higher rate than in fact they do (since New York State has this rather important and heavily populated urban area known as New York City).


Actually, the NSFG _does_ contain some statistics on women who are "non-users" of contraception, including those who are non-users because they are not sexually active. One report says they found about 38% of non-using women (for various reasons) across their rather large sample. Unfortunately for any of us who would like to follow up the Catholic and other religious angle but are just ordinary folks without special software, codes, and files, the published NSFG studies for 2006-2008 are not tabulated by religion. Hence Guttmacher's claims about Catholic women are based on unpublished data to which they have access.

The percentage of people that have little reason to use a thing, when asked, will always register close to zero. What percentage of people that eat in America use forks? The question stacks the result from the get go. What if I asked how many people that do not DIG can be said to use shovels. The result will always be zero or very close to it so unless you can tell me what a sexually inactive WOULD or ever COULD use contraception FOR, then you are either misrepresenting the truth deliberately or your angry crusade has blinded you to what is a gross misuse of the language and an intellectually bankrupt position.

Again, what would a sexually INACTIVE woman use contraception FOR?

I'm sorry, but you don't understand. The sexually inactive women should be counted in an attempt to answer a question like, "How many Catholic women use birth control?" If x percent of Catholic women don't use birth control because they are not sexually active, then their existence should be noted and represented if we want to give an accurate answer to the question posed. See my comments about "What percentage of residents of the State of New York use bear spray?" In answering that question accurately, we need to acknowledge the existence of, among others, New York State residents who live in urban neighborhoods and who don't use bear spray because they don't need it. We want, ideally, to get a representative sample across the population surveyed. This will usually include both people who do and people who don't use the item in question, for whatever reason. We shouldn't deliberately exclude people on the grounds that they will have no use for the item in question if we're asking what percentage of the population use the item.

I'm sorry if this is too difficult for you, but I have answered the question twice now and have made the answer as clear as I can.

What you seem to someone not caught up in your drama is someone that is upset that Catholic women were painted as sexually active to begin with. How comfortable do you think a woman would even be letting you know that she is sexually active when you brandish your sword like that? It prevents you from possibly having your finger on the pulse regarding this issue.

The reason such a study SHOULD focus on only sexually active women is because a woman has a right to BE sexually active. This is the pillar of human understanding that the rest of us have reached and is glaringly missing from your world view. The only question that should concern us is if women that WANT contraception can get it. The reason this is the only question that matters is because no one is likely to ever concern themselves to begin with with distributing something to people that specifically do not want it. Such studies are conducted with a scientific aim and, as such, that perspective is exactly the perspective you are missing. Sexually inactive women were not excluded to misrepresent the truth but because there is no point in researching an activity you have no interest in engaging in, i.e. distributing something to those who don't want it.

No one is going to research that because no one is ever going to try it.

This country was not founded on the church's plight and fleeing from persecution. It was INSTITUTIONS that were oppressing men and women and it was men and women that fled so stop trying to put the rights of the church BEFORE the rights of people.

Catholic Radio Gaylord, on their website, states that people will be forced to engage in behavior they find abhorrent. This is deliberately misleading. It is institutions that are being told that if an individual does not want to act Catholic then they are not to be impeded in ANY way.

The provision of contraception, the number one preventative measure for abortion, is not to be paid for by the church or directly provided. If NOT putting your hands into another's life is some restriction of your own rights, then you have become accustomed to rights that are not yours.

How comfortable do you think a woman would even be letting you know that she is sexually active when you brandish your sword like that?

Okay, so you're just an idiot. I'm talking about studies performed by the University of Michigan. Actually, a lot of women were willing to tell them that they were sexually active. Good grief.

The reason such a study SHOULD focus on only sexually active women is because a woman has a right to BE sexually active.

So let's pretend that a higher percentage of them are using contraception than really are? Because the ones who are sexually active have a right to be? Or something.

I really think you need to bag it. You're getting more incoherent all the time.

Sexually inactive women were not excluded to misrepresent the truth

If a sample is unrepresentative because a portion of the population relevant to the conclusion has been excluded deliberately, and if the result of that aggregation of data is presented as representative, then, yes, that does misrepresent the truth.

I think you need to stop. If you keep spamming my thread with incoherent rants, I'm going to start junking your comments. I hope that is clear.

I've put up with a lot and interacted with a lot of people who disagree with me on this subject on all these threads. But this is getting ridiculous.

I answered you patiently and objectively twice. You don't understand and are starting to fill up the thread with irrelevant ranting that merely shows that you are a mouth-foaming ideologue to whom sex whenever and however people want it and contraception are holy sacraments. I suppose that has its own illustrative value as to the utter irrationality we are up against here, but I'm out of patience.

Post a comment

Bold Italic Underline Quote

Note: In order to limit duplicate comments, please submit a comment only once. A comment may take a few minutes to appear beneath the article.

Although this site does not actively hold comments for moderation, some comments are automatically held by the blog system. For best results, limit the number of links (including links in your signature line to your own website) to under 3 per comment as all comments with a large number of links will be automatically held. If your comment is held for any reason, please be patient and an author or administrator will approve it. Do not resubmit the same comment as subsequent submissions of the same comment will be held as well.