Religious women use contraception regularly, report says
April 13th, 2011
04:39 PM ET

Religious women use contraception regularly, report says

Most sexually active women use contraception, regardless of their religious beliefs, says a report from the Guttmacher Institute, an organization working to advance reproductive and sexual health  in the U.S. and worldwide.

"Regardless of religious affiliation, the majority of women use highly effective contraception methods, so any efforts to restrict access to these methods is going to impact these populations," said Rachel K. Jones, the lead author.

The report was based on a U.S. government survey that represented the nation. The data came from 2006-2008 interviews of over 7,000 women aged 15-44.

It found that 69% of sexually active women from any denomination were using highly effective birth control methods including sterilization, the pill or other hormonal method, or an intrauterine device (IUD). In addition, almost all have reported contraceptive use at some point, a figure that is similar among Catholic women.

Another key finding was that 68% of Catholics use one of the highly effective methods, but only 2% rely on natural family planning. That number is comparable to 73% of Mainline Protestants and 74% of Evangelicals.

"A lot of times, religion is either not associated with contraception at all, or, in the case of the Catholic church, being against contraception." Jones added. "In the real world, women who have religious beliefs and who attend church also use contraception."

In addition, male or female sterilization was most common in the Evangelical church; more than four in 10 women of this denomination use the method.

And marital status did not change things.

"Across religious denominations, married women are using highly effective contraceptive methods," she said.

Said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, “These findings show yet again that birth control is a common practice — and a common need — for women of different faiths and backgrounds.

"As Congress considers yet another effort to bar Planned Parenthood from providing family planning services through federal health programs, it should listen to the message these findings convey.”

soundoff (186 Responses)
  1. chief

    and why exactly do you care if people "prevent" getting pregnent? not abortions.... but prevent it? i know your against condoms also.... most catholic priests spew this same nonsense

    April 14, 2011 at 13:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • gerald

      Contraceptives are abortifacients first of all chiefy. Second of all there is a direct relationship between contraception, abortion, divorce, and promiscuity. The problem with thinking for yourself chief is our minds are limited. Why don't you go look at the date regarding abortion and contraception for instance.

      April 14, 2011 at 21:06 | Report abuse |
    • chief

      re priest... once again the great mystery of catholicism..... more importent to fight to for the unborn than the born....
      first your wildly wrong about all contrceptives being abortifacients

      second.... the relatrionship between contraception, abortion, divorce, and promiscuity is about as accurate as saying catholic priests that love little boys are really godly too.,.......

      why the hell do you care if a man and woman wants to use a contrceptive? ( not abortion ) ... oh yeah, its part of your twisted belief system that man in white dresses to you to beleive

      April 15, 2011 at 07:20 | Report abuse |
    • gerald

      More bigotry from a _____ you fill in the blank Cheify. Where did I say child molesters were Godly.

      April 15, 2011 at 14:14 | Report abuse |
    • chief

      re gerald .... More bigotry from a man who hates peds and those that protect them.... hows that priest????

      hey priest the question was...... why the hell do you care if a man and woman wants to use a contrceptive? ( not abortion ) ... condoms? oh yeah you'd rather keep the impoverished down and aids on the spread.... and provide life to those who will never wear fish hats, or white capes, or wear gold crosses, or kiss the popes ring,..... but that hell is better than the one you provide kids with the ped priests

      April 15, 2011 at 15:18 | Report abuse |
    • gerald

      He chiefy you bug me in other threads about going "off topic" by bringing up things you claim are unrelated to ped priests. Then you come over here and bring up ped priests. All you show is your deep rooted bigotry.Ya, the pill really cuts back on aids chief. 16% failure rates of condoms really cuts back on aides all right chief. That's the CDC number, not mine. Your funny.

      April 15, 2011 at 20:31 | Report abuse |
    • gerald

      Well we have found out one thing. Chiefy is not Russian. If he was he would know of a game called Russian Roulette. Instead he says use condoms at a 16% bypical use failure rate (CDC numbers, not mine) to stop aids. I think he's unclear about whether the pill stops aids too. You go bright boy.

      April 15, 2011 at 20:52 | Report abuse |
    • chief

      re gerald.... topic on religious women using contreceptives....
      i didnt say use condoms or promote any of it.... unlike yourself ... i didnt tell people NOT to use condoms, pr throught the authority of your stupid dogma, bring people into this world that face hell on earth.... you'd rather keep the impoverished down and aids on the spread.... and provide life to those who will never wear fish hats, or white capes, or wear gold crosses, or kiss the popes ring,..... but that hell is better than the one you provide kids with the ped priests

      some foolish priest driving catholic dogma down peoples throats against condoms and birth control spouting rhythm method..... go ahead with your foolish, narrow minded, cultish, montra....

      April 16, 2011 at 07:24 | Report abuse |
    • gerald

      Here is what chiefy said:"why the hell do you care if a man and woman wants to use a contrceptive? ( not abortion ) ... condoms? oh yeah you'd rather keep the impoverished down and aids on the spread:"

      Now he says:
      "i didnt say use condoms or promote any of it"
      Chief. Is someone signing on under your name or are you having problems with dual personality disorder and schizophrenia?

      April 16, 2011 at 13:23 | Report abuse |
    • gerald

      Hey chiefy, NFP isn't "the rythm method". It's a beautiful science that God has created and you put down. Sad.

      April 16, 2011 at 14:49 | Report abuse |
    • chief

      re gerald... your twisted.... yeah it works great... ask your wife and you 8 kids..... ask your parents... or your 11 brothers and sisters or your 11 aunts and uncles from your fathers side.... parise be to your god..... 35 more of you

      April 18, 2011 at 07:07 | Report abuse |
    • gerald

      Modern methods of NFP weren't available when my mom had me. Lucky for me. My wife and i chose to have 8 kids.

      April 20, 2011 at 15:45 | Report abuse |
  2. chief

    typical comment from a catholic priest or someone who would doesnt think for themselves..... why do you care if women prevent getting pregnent? not talking about abortions..... oh yeah, its not the catholic way, isnt that right priest?

    April 14, 2011 at 13:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. blf83

    Are they referring to nuns?

    April 14, 2011 at 13:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. blf83

    Were they referring to nuns?

    April 14, 2011 at 13:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. dx2718

    Some women take birth control pills for purposes other than birth control (e.g. controlling PMS, curing acne).

    April 14, 2011 at 13:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. patsybronx

    Is not the INTENT of both "Natural" and "Artificial" family planning the SAME? Prevention of pregnancy, no? Most Catholic women like myself recognize the utter irrationality – never mind hypocracy! – of accepting one and forbidding the other. When I was young and concerned about such things, there was a joke that went "What do you call people who practice rhythm? Parents!" Well, now that I'm beyond such concerns – my three children are grown, and one is about to make me a grandmother – I rejoice in knowing that I have been fruitful and multiplied, and used the intelligence God blessed me with to limit the number of children I produced. And through God's grace and blessing I have lived to raise them all to productive adulthood. And the good Fathers can call me anything they want, a sinner, a Cafeteria Catholic, I am at peace with my God.

    April 14, 2011 at 14:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Bill

    Religious does not equal Catholic.

    Our very conservative, hellfire & brimstone preaching Southern Baptist church has had medical missions abroad offering tubal ligations to local women.

    When you have had 6 kids before age 24 it's something they were grateful for.

    April 14, 2011 at 14:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. LeeCMH

    If you use contraception, you are going straight to hell.

    April 14, 2011 at 14:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JackNikon

      But if you bring children into the world before you can fully support them and as a consequence give them a sub-standard childhood and lower their chances of having a successful, healthy adulthood, there is a special seat in heaven waiting just for you?

      April 14, 2011 at 15:37 | Report abuse |
  9. Sally

    This is a comment for Gerald... who is in the habit of totally ignoring valid arguments from the other side. Say if I were to believe that contraceptives cause infertility, thereby not only "delaying" conception but eliminating it altogether (your famous shooting grandma vs. letting her die metaphor), What about condoms???
    They also "delay" pregnancy. I.e., you use condoms when you don't want to get pregnant- but when you stop using them, they have no impact on your ability to get pregnant- just like NFP!! Plus, they have the added bonus of protecting against STD's, important in African countries where abstinence is just not working (even among the Christian populations).
    So whats your argument there? I dont think your killing grandma vs. letter her die applies here at all.

    April 14, 2011 at 14:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MarkinFL

      Well who are you to bring logic to this party? Reality is that the CC promotes NFP because they know women WILL try to control their pregnancies and NFP has the best chance of failure since even one slip can equal one more Catholic.

      April 14, 2011 at 17:26 | Report abuse |
    • gerald

      It's easy to make stuff up out of prejudice Marky. Why don't you doa search for Christopher West and get the real reasons why the CC is against contraception. I dare you.

      April 14, 2011 at 21:32 | Report abuse |
  10. zipcity

    Can't help but laugh at the folks defending NFP. I'm reminded of the joke I heard in grade school: "What do you call a woman who practices the rhythm method of birth control? Mom!"

    I'd also like to add that my mother is a very conservative churchgoing woman and always has been, but she's always been a big supporter of Planned Parenthood and believes abortion should be legal. Why? She was a registered nurse for forty years and worked in a hospital, where she saw many young women killed or injured by abortions before Roe v. Wade made it possible for them to get them from real doctors. Banning abortion doesn't stop them from happening, it just makes them more dangerous for everyone concerned, and letting the women who need them get them saves lives.

    April 14, 2011 at 15:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Magnolia

    Of course women (religious/non-religious) use contraception. It's not in anyone's (parent or child) to have children that they can't afford to feed or house. It's called common sense. This goes for married couple's too.

    April 14, 2011 at 15:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • gerald

      Some practice :"common sense" and have fancy boats and cars. Some trust in God and are blessed with children as he promised. Ps 127 for instance. I grew up in a family of 17. Praise God my mom was open to life and didn't stop at 11. I was the 12th.

      April 14, 2011 at 21:20 | Report abuse |
    • gerald

      By the way, we weren't rich and didn't have alot but we had enough. God provided. That is my experience with other large faithful families I know as well.

      April 14, 2011 at 21:21 | Report abuse |
  12. bold_one

    Why did you censor my comment and delete the six responses that were posted yesterday? What right have you to take away my free speech? Shame on CNN, a news outlet that broke the "no shame barrier" years ago to jump in bed with the DemoRats and Planned Parenhood! The offspring of that union is indeed ugly!

    April 14, 2011 at 16:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dm

      Judging by your "free speech" I guess it's true that you get what you pay for...shut ur yap...please and thank you.

      April 14, 2011 at 16:14 | Report abuse |
    • Lady B

      They haven't taken away your right to free speech. You are still free to say anything you like, just as they (a private organization) are free to delete whatever comments you chose to post on THEIR website. When they come around and prevent you from creating your OWN web page to post your own comments on, THEN they're infringing on their right to free speech. Stop being so melodramatic. It undermines your credibility, not to mention lessening the seriousness of ACTUAL infringements on free speech.

      April 14, 2011 at 17:05 | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      It apparently lost to CNN's free speech rights. They own the system, we post here only with their permission. The 1st amendment protects you from government interference, nothing else.

      April 14, 2011 at 17:10 | Report abuse |
  13. Goodie1977

    D Russell:
    In response to your lengthy post with quotation of scriptures. It is always beneficial to read the entire paragraph for context. If one does so, it quickly becomes appearant that you are cherry-picking portions of scripture to create the answer or point you desire. I am not weighing in on the issue of the article, merely your method of response.

    April 14, 2011 at 16:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Amber

    I think that us 'religious' women want to use birth control for many reasons. First of all, we want to set a good foundation in our marriage first before bringing children into the mix. Doing that will help the couple better prepare themselves for still keeping a good husband/wife relationship while also preparing time to decide their parenting techniques. Second, we don't believe abortion is a good choice, we feel it's wrong. And so if we keep from getting pregnant then we have no child to kill (in our mentality that is how we see it. you may see it differently, if so then okay. please dont be offended by me). Third, it involves whatever other personal reason the woman may have. I for one am enjoying just spilling all my love and attention on my husband that I literally don't want to share it with anyone else. One day I will, and when that day comes and my husband and I are both ready....then we will have kids. But until then we are doing our part to just be him and I. I do know some women and even men who believe birth control is wrong as well, but I disagree with them. Even in the bible they used a form of birth control...'it was called spilling'. Gross!

    April 14, 2011 at 16:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. kirstyloo

    While I don't agree with the Catholics Churches (CC) position on contraceptives, I don't have a problem with the Church having the position...and expecting their followers follow it. Parishioners make choices based on their faith. If a person wants to join a group (CC), and the group (church doctorine, clergy) has certain beliefs that they expect their members to adhere to...I think that is also fair. The people who "rule/adminster" the group make the rules. Their followers can take it or leave it. Simply put, the CC isn't a democracy.

    I do think that the lack of flexibity and vision are some of the reason's the Catholic Church is in the state its in...and why it has been plagued with certain problems.

    April 14, 2011 at 17:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. gerald

    If you want to understand the teaching of John Paul II regarding human sxlity, which gets in to contraception and NFP, just do a search for Christopher West, who teaches this theology.

    April 14, 2011 at 21:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Allison

    @Paul: Please explain to me how NFP will keep marriages together? Are you implying that other types of birth control will cause a marriage to fail?

    "Natural Family Planning is safer for the woman, will help keep marriages together and will never cause abortions."

    April 15, 2011 at 00:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. New Movement Crew

    I dont think religion should have nothing to do with it. Some people take contraceptions so they wont get pregnant and I think when a woman dont want to get pregnant its for a good reason. If we have freedom of speech, we as women should be able to make our own decision. Birth control can make a difference. As a catholic they rather for you not to take any contraceptions but what if you get pregnant, do they believe in abortions or something.

    I know that we should abide by our religions beliefs but we have to make a life the way we want it to be. Its not like once you get on birth control you cant get off because you can.

    April 15, 2011 at 11:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. chief

    Sounds to me that people like gerald ( THE PRIEST ) would force his beliefs on people under the guise of logic..... "Obvioisly wrong with conviction"

    I love all the rhetoric and theological bantor provided ..... it is the great mystery of assumption gerald..... you assume we care what a priest like you thinks

    April 15, 2011 at 15:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • gerald

      More accusations by someone who calls himself a Christian but bears false witness. Chief, when are you going to learn all you show on these boards is hatred for your fellow man?

      April 15, 2011 at 20:26 | Report abuse |
  20. gerald

    Chief sounds like you are getting a bit testy. You in fact gave implied support for condoms against the spread of aids.

    "why the hell do you care if a man and woman wants to use a contrceptive? ( not abortion ) ... condoms? oh yeah you'd rather keep the impoverished down and aids on the spread". 16% failure rate with typical use chief. And I am the stupid one you claim. Chief, every condom or pill is an attack on children. Fact. Chief, there is as much poverty now as ever and we have been contracepting for 50 years! More on ped priests. Chief, your a broken record and so filled with hate. You could care less about children. I didn't say anything good about the rythm method. Your just posting more ignorance. You know nothing about the beautiful science of the woman's body and how her temperature and chemistry and physiology can accurately tell you when she is able to concieve and when not. But because Catholics study this God given science, and it's not Catholic dogma you put out venimous attacks. Keep it up chiefy. It shows your heart. I'm prayin for you because a heart like that will not end up in heaven.

    April 16, 2011 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. gerald

    Chiefy, where did I say anything supporting the rhythm method? You just show your ignorance by using this term for NFP, which is not the rythm method but a beautiful science about many facets of the woman's body that tell when she can and can't concieve. By using this term you put down the beauty of the woman and the physiology that God created. Pretty sad..

    April 16, 2011 at 14:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. gerald

    Chief where did I speak of the "rythm method". You just post your ignorance of NFP and what it is and the great science created by God that it is. All over your hatred of Catholics like me. Pretty sad chiefy.

    April 16, 2011 at 14:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. gerald

    Hey Chief, NFP isn't "the rythm method". All you display is ignorance about the beautiful science God has created in the woman's body. Sad.

    April 16, 2011 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. chief

    re gerald..... your responses are desperate.... have you ever noticed that you are the fruitcake in the kitchen? i guess you know that.....

    April 17, 2011 at 12:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. gerald


    My mom didn't use NFP. It wasn't as well developed in those days. My wife and I wanted all our kids. We knew when they were going to happen because we used NFP. Evidently you don't like kids since you think some of my 8 and the ones my mom had shouldn't exist. Know what Jesus said about those that hate kids???? Your posts get more sad each one I see.

    April 20, 2011 at 12:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. gerald

    More proof of you ig nor ance. Chief, my mom didn't use NFP at all. Fortunate for me. We knew pretty well with the 8 kids we had when they were gonna be concieved. That is the beauty of NFP. Some people want 8 kids chief. Evidently you don't like kids very well and wish alot of them didn't exist.

    April 20, 2011 at 15:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. gerald

    Um chief, modern NFP methods weren't availble when my mom all her kids. She loved kids anyway. My wife and I chose to have 8 kids. NFP allowed us to know when they were concieved. I thought you loved kids. Evidently not.

    April 20, 2011 at 15:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. gerald

    You have no god because you don't believe children are a blessing chief. Glad to see your hatred of children is coming out. YOu don't want many of them to exist.

    April 21, 2011 at 08:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Sam

    My wife and I space our births using NFP, the natural way. No nasty hormone pills and abortion causing IUD's in this family.

    April 28, 2011 at 14:57 | Report abuse | Reply
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    May 11, 2011 at 21:45 | Report abuse | Reply
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