Lies, Damned Lies and 98% of Catholic Women

I’m one of those weird people who believe that rights endowed by our creator are not up for popular vote. But I’m sure you’ve seen/heard/read that statistic being bandied about by every single member of the media (give or take) over the last week? The one about how 98% of Catholic women use multiple forms of birth control every day for fun?

I’ll cop to being a reporter, albeit one with an economics degree. That meant many years of statistics and regression analyses. So I was curious about that…

  1. Pseudodionysius

    Math is hard.

    In other news, I thought I’d mention that our favorite website Attack Waaaaaaaatch is back up and running with new, more vapid talking points to share with your friends and enemies:

    http://www.attackwatch.com/spread-the-word

  2. John Murdoch

    Mollie,

    Your reporting is terrific…but PLEASE. We simply have to get off the topic of contraception–the issue is whether the federal government can impose a rule, regulation, or statute that violates the moral conscience of the citizenry. We must (must, must, must) frame this discussion in terms of the constitutional issue.

    David Axelrod is on his knees in deep, fervent prayer that Catholics and social conservatives will rally around Rick Santorum (or, secondarily, Mitt Romney), fueled by their outrage over the contraception cram-down. Nothing, nothing would be more helpful to their campaign than to be able to frame the issue as Barack the Protector, keeping you and your love life safe from Cardinal Santorum and the new Office of the Holy Inquisition. 

    Whether contraception is right, wrong, popular, or an infallible indicator of the pending wrath of God–the discussion must always be in terms of whether the Obama Administration can force someone to do something they believe to be immoral. 

    First they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up–because I wasn’t a Catholic….

  3. Mollie Hemingway
    C
    John Murdoch: Mollie,

    Your reporting is terrific…but PLEASE. We simply have to get off the topic of contraception–the issue is whether the federal government can impose a rule, regulation, or statute that violates the moral conscience of the citizenry. We must (must, must, must) frame this discussion in terms of the constitutional issue.

    Certainly. But while the media explains the perspective of those who don’t care about religious liberty, they should at least do that accurately. I think that in some ways there’s too much emphasis on religious liberty, too. Quite simply, employers should have the freedom to offer whatever benefits package they want to, for whatever reason they want to. Whether that is guided by religious views or not is irrelevant, no?

  4. James Gawron

    Mollie,

    This is a disgusting smear of Catholic Women hiding behind a veneer of social science gobboldygook.

    Kick these guys in the shins Mollie.   If perchance you miss and you catch them a little higher up it’s OK by me.

    Regards,

    Jim

  5. Grendel

    Good analysis with charts here, too.

    http://www.catholicvote.org/discuss/index.php?p=26675

    The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is telling the suckers, er…people who might give money

    “I can hardly believe this: Republican Senators are pushing legislation that will allow any employer to deny women coverage for birth control! Yes, you read that right. Birth control.   “What is wrong with these people? More than 98% of American women use or have used contraception. It saves money, and it saves lives, which is why President Obama wants to make sure every woman has access to this critically important part of health care. The Republicans have proved yet again that they are only interested in defeating President Obama and waging war on women.” [boldface in the original]

    As Thomas Sowell might ask, since the invention of the Pill and Roe, what benefits have accrued to the American people?

  6. Mama Toad

    In the 1960s, the New York bishops tried to maintain laws against businesses being open on Sundays (p. 124 in the linked pdf). This was done in accord with the view that the Sabbath should be kept holy. The bishops failed. The legislature determined that the religious injunction to keep the Sabbath holy did not preclude those who did not share that religious view from doing whatever they wanted on Sunday, especially those who are not Christian. The religious nature of the day even for Christians today is clouded with other things — sports, work, travel, etc. 

    This is the same thinking as is going into the HHS diktat, don’t you think? I.e., the religious nature of opposition to contraception is not believed by most religious people. Therefore, the grounds for claiming religious discrimination are specious, and John Murdoch is correct. If it is framed, as it has been, as a matter of religious liberty, we will fail. Constitutional grounds may win, but  they might not. The only solution is the repeal of Obamacare (delenda est).

    (That said, I will continue to try to convince everyone that contraception is immoral and damaging to all people at all times!)

  7. Underground Conservative
    Pseudodionysius: Math is hard.

    In other news, I thought I’d mention that our favorite website Attack Waaaaaaaatch is back up and running with new, more vapid talking points to share with your friends and enemies:

    http://www.attackwatch.com/spread-the-word · 39 minutes ago

    Ooooh, and with new colors to make it look so friendly!  Makes me sick.

  8. mfgcbot

    Thank you for the great analysis, Mollie.

    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    I think that in some ways there’s too much emphasis on religious liberty, too.  · 22 minutes ago

    I think that this is an important point.  The opponents of the mandate are arguing that this is not about contraception, but about freedom of religion and freedom of conscience; that it is an offense to the rights guaranteed in the first amendment.  This is true, but the fight is also representative of the callous, bureaucratic tyranny inherent in Obamacare, and foreshadows the innumerable conflicts to come as the law is implemented.  

    Voters uninterested in the Catholic Church’s disposition concerning birth control and abortion will hopefully learn from this one example, learn that the authority granted the Secretary of HHS and her bureaucracy can and will force any decision regarding their healthcare- mortal, moral, or mundane- into the public square.  We are fighting over abortifacients, we could just as well be fighting over Advil. 

    Winning the current struggle over our guaranteed freedom of religion is critical, and my hope is that it draws attention to, rather than distracts from, the fundamental flaws in the PPACA.

  9. John Murdoch
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    Quite simply, employers should have the freedom to offer whatever benefits package they want to, for whatever reason they want to. Whether that is guided by religious views or not is irrelevant, no? 

    Freedom to have differing benefits in an insurance contract is not–strictly speaking–addressed in the Constitution. Freedom of religion, of course, is.

    We have to speak to this as a freedom of religion issue, rather than a fight over contraception. Obama and Axelrod want this to be about contraception–note the DSCC letter quoted elsewhere in this thread. 

    This can just as easily be about another women’s health issue: dietary iron. Can Kathleen Sibelius, backed by all kinds of medical evidence, require that matzoh be made using enriched flour fortified with iron? 

    The medical evidence is compelling–women, even girls, benefit from iron. There’s practically no medical risk (unless, like me, you have a blood disorder named hemocromatosis). Think about the children!

    But to observant Jews, enriched flour would be unthinkable–it would be immoral. The bread would not, could not be kosher. Can HHS require Jews to eat non-kosher matzoh at Passover?

    That’s the issue.

  10. James Of England
    Pseudodionysius: Math is hard.

    In other news, I thought I’d mention that our favorite website Attack Waaaaaaaatch is back up and running with new, more vapid talking points to share with your friends and enemies:

    http://www.attackwatch.com/spread-the-word · 2 hours ago

    Have you read the “blog”? I’m amazed at how focused it is; Santorum and Perry are name checked in one joint attack on Mitt each, and Newt, the Kochs, and Zionists get one entry each, with all the rest being directed at Romney (or Bolton as “the Romney Camp” etc.)

  11. Mel Foil

    Maybe the President could establish low-interest loans, so that couples could afford those (apparently very expensive) boxes of condoms, and no longer have to rely on insurance coverage to protect them from having to spend their life savings on a box of Trojans. Maybe we should have a telethon….

  12. Joseph Stanko

    I think it’s also worth emphasizing that the mandate states that contraceptives must be offered for free.  No co-payment.

    The other side likes to use the term “access to contraceptives,” as if women would no longer be able to buy them.  No one is proposing that.  The question on the table is: who pays for them?  And can you force someone who thinks they are immoral to pick up the tab?

  13. Tom Meyer, Ed.
    C
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.: 

    “So I guess we could say that among women aged 15-44 who had sex in the last three months but aren’t pregnant, post-partum or trying to get pregnant, 87% of women who identify as Catholic used contraception. It’s worth pondering just who is left out of this 87%, other than, you know, everyone who doesn’t use contraception. 

    Mollie,

    Just want to be sure I have this correct.  As I see it, there are two significant problems with the statistic:

    1. That the 11% who selected “no method” weren’t included with the 2% who use NFP; and 

    2. That all the additional restrictions of the sample group — between the ages of 15 and 44, etc — weren’t mentioned in the reports.

    That’s all I can see — which quite a lot! — but your  last phrase in the section I quoted gave me the impression I was missing something.

  14. Kimberley

    Thanks, Molly.  I’m not a Catholic, but nevertheless I did a double-take when I read the 98% figure.  As usual, you got to the nub of the story.

  15. tabula rasa
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.: I’m one of those weird people who believe that rights endowed by our creator are not up for popular vote. 

    You’re not weird, you’re just quaintly old-fashioned (you know, like the founders).  Freedom of religion is one of those rights, and those of us who still care about it must fight to avoid the incremental chipping away of it.  We’re at one of those “here we stand, and we will not be moved” moments.

  16. Mothership_Greg

    Mollie, you might be interested in my post on the member feed that I made about a week ago regarding the “98%” figure.

  17. ChuckMenoFalls

    Mollie,

    I get your point about challenging the media narrative. However, I’m not sure I’m all that offended by excluding some of these groups in the figures.  After all, I don’t think anyone should be surprised that women who are or who are trying to become pregnant are not using contraceptives.

    One could very easily make a case that including those groups in the analysis would be skewing the numbers in the opposite direction, no?

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