The headline on a recent article in The Washington Post made a bold statement for a liberal publication: “You won’t get pregnant if you use the pill, right? Wrong.” The story, published Monday, touted what abstinence experts have said all along: birth control isn’t foolproof. The best way not to get pregnant is not to have sex.
If the Post in this instance is a leading indicator of liberal thought, as it often is, the article is significant. Liberals for several decades have scoffed at conservatives who say sexually active teens who use birth control pills are still likely to get pregnant sooner or later. But a study on contraceptive efficacy by Dr. James Trussell from Princeton University shows conservatives are right, and the Post is willing to admit it.
The 99 percent efficacy rate the pill is famous for isn’t exactly accurate. Trussell’s study showed that the typical woman, who does not demonstrate perfect use, doesn’t get to boast that close-to-perfect “protection” rate. Women with perfect use—who are paid to take the pill in a controlled environment on a strict schedule—have only a 0.7 percent chance of getting pregnant in the first year of use. However, depending on when she takes the pill, and her genetics, weight, diet, or metabolism, the typical woman using oral contraception has a 9 percent chance of getting pregnant in the first year.
Colleen Krajewski, an obstetrician and gynecologist affiliated with Johns Hopkins who works on contraception-related research projects told the Post, “I can’t even give you a scientific answer even if you missed a pill,” when asked about the drug’s failures. Of the article author’s unplanned pregnancy, she said, “My guess is it was sort of the perfect storm of little things.”
The Post said researchers are struggling to figure out why the pill isn’t working as designed. Predictably, neither the article’s sources nor the author suggested some things might be beyond human control, and proof of the reason God designed sex to be confined within the bounds of marriage.