Obama Refuted by CDC Report: Not True 99% of Women Have Used Contraceptives--13.9% Have Never Had Sex

March 19, 2012 - 5:24 PM
Kathleen Sebelius Barack Obama

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and President Barack Obama at the White House on Feb. 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(CNSNews.com) - The definitive study of contraception use in the United States--which was produced by the U.S. government's National Center for Health Statistics and published by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention--refutes the claim President Barack Obama made in a White House briefing on Feb. 10 that “nearly 99 percent of all women” have used contraception.

In fact, according to the study--which looked at the contraception use of American women between the ages of 15 and 44--13.9 percent had never had heterosexual intercourse, period.

Also, according to the study, 38.2 percent of American women age 15-44 said they did not currently use contraception.

“Nearly 99 percent of all women have relied on contraception at some point in their lives--99 percent,” Obama claimed in explaining why he was moving forward with a regulation that requires all health-care plans in the United States to cover sterilizations and all FDA-approved contraceptives free of charge to all women who, in the terms of the regulation, have "reproductive capacity."

Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius twice made the same claim—without refutation--on national television programs. So, too, did Obama's deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter.

On Feb. 10, the same day Obama made the claim at the White House, Sebelius said on PBS’s “Newshour” that contraception was “a benefit used by 99 percent of women across this country at some point in their lives.”

Also on Feb. 10, Obama Deputy Campaign Manage Cutter, made the claim in two separate appearances that bracketed the day on CNN.

In the 8:00 a.m. hour, appearing with Soledad O’Brien, Cutter said: “This is birth control. This is the pill which women have been taking for generations. It is not controversial, 99 percent of all women have taken it, 98 percent of Catholic women have taken it. The debate on this is over.”

In the 9:00 p.m. hour, appearing with Piers Morgan, Cutter said: “This … is birth control, something that women have been taking, you know, for decades, and something that is accepted in this country--99 percent of the women take birth control. It's a little unbelievable that we are debating it."

On March 1, HHS Secretary Sebelius appeared on John King's CNN program and once again claimed that “99 percent of women take contraception at some point during their health lives.”

So what is the truth?

President Obama's claim that nearly 99 percent of women have used contraception at some point in their lives appears to stem from a careless or misleading restatement of a sentence that appears in a July 2011 HHS-funded Institute of Medicine report that recommended to HHS that a regulation be issued under President Obama's health-care law that cost-free coverage for sterilizations and contraceptives for women be included in all health care plans sold in the United States.

On page 103, this report said: “More than 99 percent of U.S. women aged 15 to 44 years who have ever had sexual intercourse with a male have used at least one contraceptive method.”

The report did not say 99 percent of all U.S. women. It said 99 percent of U.S. women between the ages of 15 and 44 who had ever had sexual intercourse with a male. Furthermore, the report itself did not derive this statistic independently, it footnoted the fact to a 2010 National Center for Health Statistics report authored by William D. Mosher and Jo Jones entitled, “Use of Contraception in the United States: 1982-2008.”

This report is the latest and most definitive government study of the subject. It was based on interviews with 7,356 women between the ages of 15 and 44 and follows up on similar reports based on similar surveys in 1982, 1995 and 2002. From the 7,356 women this government study actually surveyed, the authors extrapolated to make conclusions about what they estimated to be the total of 61.864 million women in the United States between the ages of 15 and 44.

What does the report say?

First, it says that of the 61.864 million women in the United States between the 15 and 44, only 53.240 million have ever had heterosexual intercourse.

The other 8.624 million have never had heterosexual intercourse. That means that, according to this government study, 13.94 percent of American women age 15 to 44 have never had heterosexual intercourse.

The authors then excluded this 13.94 percent of American women in the 15 to 44 age bracket and focused on contraceptive use only among the 86.06 percent who said they had engaged in heterosexual intercourse.

“The scope of this report is limited to contraceptive use (as reported by women) during heterosexual vaginal intercourse,” the authors wrote.

The survey then asked women who said they had engaged in heterosexual intercourse, “Whether she has ever used each of 22 methods of contraception at any time in her life.”(Underlining is in the original.)

From this, the authors determined that 99.1 percent of the 86.06 percent who had engaged in intercourse had used some method of contraception at least once in their life.

Thus, if is fair to say from this definitive government report on the issue that about 86 percent of American women between 15 and 44 have used a form of contraception at least once in their life.

But how many American women in this age bracket are using contraception now?

According to the report, 61.8 percent of American women were currently using contraception at the time the survey was conducted.

38.2 percent said they were not using contraception.

The report provided a more detailed breakdown of the ages of the American women who were not using any contraception at all. It said that 71.8 percent of women age 15-19 were not using contraception, 45.3 percent of women age 20-24 were not using contraception, 35.8 percent of women 25-29 were not using contraception, 29.7 percent of women age 30-34 were not using contraception, 25.0 percent of women 35-39 were not using contraception, and 22.2 percent of women 40-44 were not using contraception.

What percentage of American women were both celebate and not using contraception?

The report did not publish an age-bracket-by-age-bracket accounting of the 13.9 percent of American women ages 15-44 who said they had never had heterosexual intercourse. But it did publish an age-bracket -by-age-bracket accounting of women who were not using contraception and who said they either had never had intercourse or had not had intercourse in the previous 3 months.

According to this National Center for Health Statistics, it turns out that 19.2 percent of American women age 15-44 are not using contraception and either have never had sexual intercourse are have not in the last 3 months. This included 60 percent of the women 15-19 years old, 20.4 percent of the women 20-24 years old, 10.6 percent of the women 25-29 year old, 8.7 percent of the women 30-34 years old, 7.4 percent of the women 35-39 years old, and 8.0 percent of the women 40-44 years old.

President Obama’s claim, repeated by his HHS secretary and his deputy campaign manager, that “nearly 99 percent of all women have relied on contraception at some point in their lives” is false.