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More evidence that you can't trust the Pill

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Sep 15, 2014

All too often, debates about family planning proceed from the assumption that the Pill is foolproof. Not so.

A useful article in the New York Times, complete with an informative graph, compares the effectiveness of various forms of family planning over long periods of time, and makes an important distinction between “typical” and “perfect” use.

Family-planning agencies tout the Pill as 99% effective in preventing pregnancy “when taken correctly.” But that statistic is a snapshot, capturing the odds at any one given moment. What if a woman relies on the Pill for years? And what if, being a normal human being rather than a lab rat, she sometimes forgets to take her daily dose? Thus the Times story concentrates on “typical” use.

With “typical” use, after three years, out of 100 women relying on the Pill, 25 will become pregnant. After seven years the figure is 48. And after ten years, 61 of those women—most of them—will have become pregnant.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: FredC - Sep. 17, 2014 2:08 PM ET USA

    The Pill also seems to have a carcinogenic imperfection.

  • Posted by: ebierer1724 - Sep. 16, 2014 9:27 PM ET USA

    I quote Jeff Goldblum's character in Jurrasic Park "Nature, um ah, finds a way..."

  • Posted by: garedawg - Sep. 16, 2014 10:45 AM ET USA

    Pill's not perfect? I guess that's what abortions are for.