A new report from the Guttmacher Institute says that most sexually active religious women use contraception. In particular, the study finds that 68 percent of Catholics, 73 percent of Mainline Protestants, and 74 percent of Evangelicals all use highly effective methods including sterilization, the pill, or the IUD. (Interestingly enough, only 2 percent of Catholic women rely on natural family planning.)
Some people are shocked by this news considering the fact that certain religions are vehemently opposed to the use of contraception. Me? I find these findings to be the exact opposite of surprising.
Most women -- regardless of background -- know that contraception must be used in order to prevent unintended pregnancy. (Now whether they have access to it or can afford it is a whole different story altogether.) So, it doesn't surprise me that most women use it -- even if their church has banned it. For whatever reason, they don't want to get pregnant!
The fact that the majority of religious women do use contraception is important information. Why? Some social conservatives -- and I'll try not to name names or dwell that they're trying to defund certain family planning organizations -- would have us believe that making contraceptives more affordable and easier to use reflects the needs and desires of only a tiny sex-crazed minority of U.S. women (and their partners, let's remember). But, in fact, as far as this study is concerned, using contraceptives is the norm across the board.
Giving women the ability to have sex without the possibility of procreation -- in the form of accessible, affordable contraception -- might be an uncomfortable pill for certain lawmakers to swallow. But it's time to face the facts and acknowledge that this might be what the majority of women actually want and, more important, need.
Image via Gnarls Monkey/Flickr