The popular site called FactChecker.org looked into the assertion, made by the likes of Nancy Pelosi and repeated without qualification by liberal media acolytes and awarded it two Pinocchios*. The claim is a "media foul," FactChecker said.
Here's what else FactChecker said in part:
But while the study says that 98 percent of “sexually experienced Catholic women” have “ever used a contraceptive method other than natural planning,” the data shown in the [Guttmacher Institute] report does not actually back up that claim. In fact, a supplementary table in the report, on page 8, even appears to undermine that statistic, since it shows that 11 percent of Catholic women currently using no method at all. That has led to criticism of the statistic.
The Guttmacher Institute, citing “confusion” over the statistic, on Wednesday posted the actual databehind it. It turns out it was based on a question that asked self-identified Catholic women who have had sex if they have ever used one of 12 methods of birth control. Jones, in an interview, said the women were asked to answer “yes” or “no” whether they had used each of the different forms; only two percent had said they had used only natural family planning.
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. Jones said the correct way to describe the results of the research is this:
“Data shows that 98 percent of sexually experienced women of child-bearing age and who identify themselves as Catholic have used a method of contraception other than natural family planning at some point in their lives.”
One might note that the survey covered only women in a certain age group, so it cannot be said to represent all Catholic women.
Before some readers get too upset, I'd also add that the survey, in fact, says that many, if not most, Catholic women use contraception--a fact that no one, not even the Catholic bishops dispute.
What's so aggravating about this is that the Catholic Bishops put out a statement saying the same thing when this controversy broke, but it was completely ignored. The reporters who passed along this error by rote didn't even have to do their own fact checking. All they had to do was quote the other side (the bishops) even if they didn't believe it.
*"Significant omissions and/or exaggerations. Some factual error may be involved but not necessarily. A politician can create a false, misleading impression by playing with words and using legalistic language that means little to ordinary people." Actually, I think it deserves Three Pinocchios ("Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions") or Four Pinocchios ("Whoppers")
Here are the facts from FactChecker.com
Here is the pertinent chart from Guttmacher.
Here GetReligion.org takes NPR, The Atlantic and other media apart for blinding repeating the 98 percent figure
Hat tip to Blithe Spirit