Most Catholic women use birth control banned by church

BOSTON Wed Apr 13, 2011 5:54pm EDT

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BOSTON (Reuters) - Some 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women have used contraceptive methods banned by the church, research published on Wednesday showed.

A new report from the Guttmacher Institute, the nonprofit sexual health research organization, shows that only 2 percent of Catholic women, even those who regularly attend church, rely on natural family planning.

The latest data shows practices of Catholic women are in line with women of other religious affiliations and adult American women in general.

"In real-life America, contraceptive use and strong religious beliefs are highly compatible," said the report's lead author Rachel Jones.

She said most sexually active women who do not want to become pregnant practice contraception, and most use highly effective methods like sterilization, the pill, or the intrauterine device (IUD).

"This is true for Evangelicals and Mainline Protestants, and it is true for Catholics, despite the Catholic hierarchy's strenuous opposition to contraception," Jones said.

Nearly 70 percent of Catholic women use sterilization, the birth control pill or an IUD, according to the Guttmacher Institute research.

The numbers are slightly higher among women who identify as Evangelicals or Mainline Protestants, research showed.

The latest data is from the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG).

The findings nearly match previous NSFG data from 2002, which showed that 97 percent of Catholic women were using birth control, and are consistent with a trend tracked over the last decade by Catholics for Choice.

(Reporting by Lauren Keiper; editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)

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