“When 99 percent of women used birth control in their lifetime and 60 percent use it for something other than family planning, it’s outrageous and I think the Supreme Court will suggest that their case is ridiculous.”
– Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, Democratic National Committee chair, on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show,” March 25, 2014
Schultz made these remarks in the context of the Supreme Court case brought by owners of the Hobby Lobby arts-and-crafts chain and Conestoga Wood Specialties cabinetry company, who have objected to paying for all of the birth control procedures required by the Affordable Care Act. They contend that some of the procedures, such as the morning-after “Plan B” pill or IUDs, could cause abortion.
We were curious about these figures, as in 2012 The Fact Checker had previously examined the claim that 98 percent of Catholic women used birth control. It turned out that the figure — from a study by the Guttmacher Institute, which is a nonprofit organization that promotes reproductive health and had started as an arm of Planned Parenthood – was often mischaracterized by politicians and the media.
Many people did not understand that the survey was asking women 15 to 44 who had had sex whether they had ever used one of 12 methods of birth control. In other words, a woman may have sex only once, or she may have had a partner who only used a condom once, and then she would be placed in the 98 percent category. If you actually looked at the data for sexually active Catholics, it turns out that 68 percent of Catholic women used what are termed “highly effective methods” of birth control: 32 percent sterilization; 31 percent pill; 5 percent IUD.
So is Wasserman Schultz using the data right?