A study from the Guttmacher Institute confirms what many have long suspected: The vast majority of religious women are using contraception, even if some religious leaders — particularly Catholics — condemn the practice.
The Catholic church still opposes all types of pregnancy prevention except for natural family planning, i.e. abstaining at certain times of a woman's cycle. The analysis, which was based on a U.S. government survey, found that 98% of Catholic women who have ever had sex have used some kind of contraceptive other than natural family planning. For comparison, 99% of all sexually active women have used contraception at some point.
68% of Catholic women use what Guttmacher calls a "highly effective method" — sterilization, the pill or other hormonal method, and the IUD. These types of contraception are also used by 73% of Mainline Protestants and 74% of Evangelicals.
Lead author Rachel K. Jones says:
"In real-life America, contraceptive use and strong religious beliefs are highly compatible. 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 IUD. This is true for Evangelicals and Mainline Protestants, and it is true for Catholics, despite the Catholic hierarchy's strenuous opposition to contraception."
The Pope has recent loosened his stance condoms, though only because they're "the lesser evil than passing HIV onto a partner." Yet, the church is still isn't in favor of using contraception to prevent pregnancy, and some leaders are even fighting to limit access to family planning programs. Recently the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opposed the effort to classify hormonal contraceptives as preventative care that must be covered in all health insurance plans, with no co-pays.
While Catholic leaders are pushing policies that limit the amount of control women have over their bodies, most of their followers are simply ignoring their decrees. The study proves that church leaders' attitudes don't reflect what religious women are actually doing, or what their conscience tells them is right.
Contraceptive Use Is The Norm Among Religious Women [Guttmacher]