Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz found herself the target of a Washington Post “Fact Checker” column after the Florida congresswoman attacked Hobby Lobby’s Obamacare court challenge by claiming 60 percent of women use birth control for something other than, well, controlling birth.
Last week, the Supreme Court began hearing arguments for the Hobby Lobby case. The craft company’s owners are suing the Obama administration over the health-care law’s birth control mandate, which requires them to provide employee coverage of abortifacients that violate their religious beliefs.
Most Democrats came out hard against Hobby Lobby and its supporters, but none harder than Ms. Wasserman Schultz, who led a media blitz last week blasting the owners and touting the importance of free birth control for women.
“When 99 percent of women used birth control in their lifetime and 60 percent use it for something other than family planning, it’s outrageous and I think the Supreme Court will suggest that their case is ridiculous,” she said while on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show” last Tuesday.
Her declaration of birth control’s centrality to womanhood is a bit of a stretch. So much so, in fact, that even The Washington Post felt compelled to call the congresswoman out.
In an article titled “Do 60 percent of women use ‘birth control’ for something other than family planning?’ the Post’s Glenn Kessler found that no, they do not.
That 60 percent comes from a report penned by the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit that began as an arm of the abortion-loving Planned Parenthood organization. The report notes that “more than half of pill users, 58 percent, rely on the method at least in part for purposes other than pregnancy prevention” — listing off ailments like menstrual cramps and acne that are relieved by the pill’s use. But no big deal; 58 percent is close to 60, right?
The key clause here is “at least in part.” The report also has a number for women who use birth control pills ONLY for non-reproductive reasons. That number is just 14 percent — not exactly close to 60.
Even worse, Hobby Lobby’s owners have claimed they don’t have a problem with birth control pills, only other medication that could be used to induce abortions. So why is Wasserman Schultz attacking them with fake statistics on a pill they’re willing to supply to their employees?
Kessler asked DNC spokeswoman Rebecca Chalif those questions. She claimed the congresswoman didn’t mean to imply that 60 percent of women use birth control for non-contraceptive reasons.
Chalif explained away the disparity between birth control pills and the actual medicines under fire in the case this way: “Yes, that report is about birth control pills,” Chalif said. “But I don’t see that as a non sequitur.”
Kessler was unconvinced, slapping Wasserman Schultz with the dreaded two Pinocchios.
“Wasserman Schultz used numbers from well-documented studies but without the right context,” he wrote. “In particular, the claim that 60 percent of women use ‘birth control’ for something other than family planning is overstated, as the more correct figure is 14 percent — and the pill is used by less than one-third of sexually active women.”
This marks something of a pattern for Democratic congresswomen defending Obamacare’s birth control mandate. In 2012, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi used the exact same study to claim that 98 percent of Catholic women use contraception for family planning. That number turned out to be Catholic women who had EVER used “effective” birth control; the number of women who used it regularly was 68 percent.
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