20-somethings Not Using Contraception: One More Reason to Support Planned Parenthood

Debate has raged aplenty recently over teen pregnancy — and whether girls are getting knocked up just to get on TV’s Teen Mom (even though studies say the show’s companion series, 16 and Pregnant, is more likely to scare kids into contraception, and teen birth rates are dropping). But there’s another concerning, if less scandalizing, birth rate that’s on the rise: that of 20-somethings who have unplanned pregnancies.

Yes, they’re technically adults, and they don’t have to walk through high school halls with swollen bellies. Sometimes, they have jobs, and maybe even apartments, which helps a little. But among unmarried women in their 20s, a full 7 out of 10 pregnancies are unplanned, according to The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy — which means their own future plans are cut short, their relationships with the fathers are often forced, and their babies are affected by it all. Especially at a time when many 20-somethings are still living with their parents and undermployed, at best, this fact is almost as serious a problem as teen pregnancy.

And what it really means is that people in their 20s aren’t doing enough to protect themselves from pregnancy even though they don’t want kids. Only half of unmarried young adults surveyed by The National Campaign reported using contraception every time; many don’t know much about their options or think that “it doesn’t matter whether you use birth control or not; when it is your time to get pregnant it will happen.” Even among those who say it’s important to them to avoid pregnancy, 34 percent say it’s likely they’ll have unprotected sex in the near future!

At a time when Congress is halfway to cutting off federal funding to Planned Parenthood nationwide, this is extraordinarily troubling. How many more unplanned pregnancies will we have among under-insured, under-informed young adults if the main organization handling such issues is shut down?


Author: Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong grew up deep in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, then escaped to New York to live in a succession of very small apartments and write about pop culture. In the process, she became a feminist, a Buddhist, and the singer/guitarist in an amateur rock band. She also spent a decade on staff at Entertainment Weekly, cofounded SexyFeminist.com, and now writes for several publications, including Women’s Health, Runner’s World, Writer’s Digest, Fast Company, and New York‘s Vulture. Her history of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted, will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2013; her collaboration with Heather Wood Rudulph, Sexy Feminism, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2013. She is the author of the Why? Because We Still Like You, a history of the original Mickey Mouse Club published by Grand Central in 2010. She has provided pop culture commentary for CNN, VH1, A&E, and ABC, and teaches article writing and creative writing. Follow her on Twitter: @jmkarmstrong


  1. Roane says:

    I have actually struggled for a long time to understand why these women find it so difficult to protect themselves. I have been on the pill since I started being sexually active – condom or not, you may still fall pregnant and there is nothing I wanted less than for my parents to have to support me because of my irresponsibility. I wanted even less to bring a child into this world who was unplanned and probably would grow up either not knowing its father, not having its father in its life or being brought up without love.

    All my thoughts and I still can’t think of any reason why a woman would not want to protect herself. It’s not so difficult after all. In South Africa you can get free contraception from health department clinics, contraceptives aren’t that expensive when you consider how expensive it is to have a child, and there are so many options available that you don’t have to feel forced to take the pill.

  2. Ujjvala says:

    Yes, this is STRANGE. Any 20-somethings going to tell us what’s going on? Do they really know that little about contraception?


  1. [...] Koslow, for their particularly sexy readings. Shout-out to Planned Parenthood for bringing the all-important condoms and Peter Dagger for providing most excellent back and neck massages. See, we told you it was sexy! [...]

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