But, if this pregnancy was unplanned, it wouldn’t be surprising — and the reason why has nothing to do with any slut-shaming accusations. Women in their 20s are three and a half times more likely to have an unplanned pregnancy than teens. In fact, seven out of every 10 pregnancies among women in their 20s are unplanned, and the highest unintended pregnancy rate is among young women age 20-24. (Jenner is 20 years old.)
While we obviously have no intel on whether or not Jenner was using birth control, 40% of young women who say they don’t want a pregnancy right now aren’t using birth control consistently or reliably. So, why is that? That question is often loaded, and the answer is hard to pin down, since everyone has different circumstances and priorities.
There is one common thread that’s woven through all of this, though: the stigma women often face when they seek out contraception. If birth control was talked about positively, more people would use it. In fact, 74% of people say that more people would use birth control if they were more comfortable talking openly about it, and 79% of women age 20-24 wish that shows and movies would portray birth control as a normal part of sex. Fortunately, that is where the Kardashians excel.
There is one common thread that’s woven through all of this, though: the stigma women often face when they seek out contraception.
While Kim has been open about her struggles with fertility and pregnancy, other members of the Kardashian clan – Kylie included — have been open about their birth control. Over the past few seasons of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Khloé has been vocal that she wasn’t yet ready for a baby with then-beau French Montana. We saw her flip out in Mexico after she missed a pill, and in a later episode, her phone alarm went off during a dinner date with Kim, reminding her it was pill time.
Khloé’s openness about her contraception is awesome because it shows young women that, no matter who you are or how much money you make, it’s vital to take control of your reproductive health and choose the birth control method that’s right for you. In fact, two-thirds of people between the ages of 12 and 24 (65%) agree that one reason for the decline in teen pregnancy over the last 20 years is that it’s a more frequent topic in popular media.
KUWTK has given us an everyday look into the lives of high-profile young women, so it only makes sense that, for the ones trying to avoid pregnancy, that includes birth control. Whether or not Jenner’s pregnancy was planned, it brings one important issue to the forefront: All women should have the power to decide if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant.
We’ll say this again: 40% of young women who don’t want a pregnancy right now aren’t using contraception reliably or consistently. That’s almost half. How do we help those young women find a method that works for them and actually use it? Follow the lead of the Kardashians — educate yourself and take charge of your own health, and then share that information with others. Talk to your friends and make sure they know that their reproductive health is important. It’s not taboo, and it’s not weird to bring up.
Whether or not Jenner planned this pregnancy isn’t up to us to decide or judge. But it is up to us to make sure that all women — and especially women in their 20s — have access to the information and medical care that will enable them to plan their families as best as they can.
Paige Whipple works for The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a private, non-profit organization that seeks to improve the lives and future prospects of children and families by preventing teen and unplanned pregnancy.
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