The Alarming Fertility Decline Among American Catholic Women

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It is no secret that birth rates have been plummeting in developed countries worldwide for the past several decades. Even a BBC headline referred to this global baby crash as “jaw dropping.” The United States is no exception. After rebounding a bit between 1997 and 2007, the birth rate has dropped steadily—4 percent just between 2019 and 2020. It is now lower than at any time in over 100 years. Both national and worldwide declines are expected to continue.

It would be unrealistic to expect American Catholics to completely defy this powerful trend. However, given Catholic teaching on artificial birth control, the purposes of matrimony, and the sanctity of life, we would expect that Catholics would at least be doing better at withstanding this movement toward steeply declining births. Sadly, this does not appear to be the case. At least in the United States, the facts show sharp drops in fertility among Catholic women overall, and among those who have ever been married, similar to what we find among Americans as a whole. This is accompanied by the overwhelming majority of ever-married Catholic women using artificial birth control, including shockingly high levels of abortion and use of the so-called “morning after” pill. 

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