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 stat. Generally speaking, there are few voluntary activities that yield such high results.
The stat was included in White House talking points explaining under which conditions religious liberty might be trampled. It comes from a Guttmacher Institute study on what types of birth control are used by women who use birth control. It spread like wildfire from there. I analyzed the stat over at GetReligion:
"Guttmacher did say in its summary that “Among all women who have had sex, 99% have ever used a contraceptive method other than natural family planning. This figure is virtually the same, 98%, among sexually experienced Catholic women.”
"But that’s not in any way an accurate statement of what its own survey found.
"On the very same page, it explains that its survey was restricted to women aged 15-44, so that cuts out all women who were older than 44 at the time of the survey. And a footnote explains that a rather significant chunk of women were excluded from this figure of “all women” — namely, women who are pregnant, post-partum or trying to get pregnant.” A later footnote says that the only women who had sex in the last three months were included in this group. Finally, included in this 98% figure of current contraceptive users are the 11% who report no method.
"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. Great stat, team journalist! I mean, the study was designed to find only women who would be most likely to use contraception. And it did.
Again, religious liberty is not up for popular vote and it doesn't depend on how perfectly adherents follow a religion (lest we should all have no religious liberty). But if you're going to use statistics, at least don't be an idiot about it.