Her fans want to #FreeBritney. To them, Britney Spears’ situation seems unfair—why does her father have total control over the life of a working woman?
Thanks to a popular social media campaign and subsequent documentary, the public has become more aware of the 39-year-old pop star’s conservatorship, a complex legal arrangement that’s normally intended for those who cannot make their own decisions. But it was hard to tell what Spears herself thought of the #FreeBritney movement; she was allegedly “embarrassed” by the documentary. Yesterday, she made a long-awaited public statement, asking the Los Angeles superior court to end her conservatorship.
The details she shared were worse than some may have feared. In her 24-minute statement, Spears alleged that she was forced to work every single day, to perform on tour, to take lithium even though it made her feel “drunk,” and to pay thousands of dollars for a rehab program she didn’t think she needed. For many, however, these weren’t even the most shocking revelations.
Pregnancy prevention allegations
Spears told the judge she was not allowed to remove her IUD, a contraceptive device implanted in the uterus for several years that is highly effective at preventing pregnancy. “I want to be able to get married and have a baby. I was told right now in the conservatorship, I’m not able to get married or have a baby…[the conservatorship team] don’t want me to have children—any more children.”
All of this has taken a toll. Spears called the conservatorship “abusive,” adding that she “[had] been in denial. I’ve been in shock. I am traumatized…I can’t sleep. I’m so angry it’s insane. And I’m depressed. I cry every day.”
“What Britney described in court yesterday has all the looks of an abusive conservatorship,” says Carrie Goldberg, founder of victims’ rights law firm C.A. Goldberg, who is not involved in the Spears case. “Everybody—the appointed conservators and the judge—should be called to question for how somebody as high functioning as Ms. Spears was required to have a conservator against her will for so long.”
On Twitter, the detail about the IUD seems to have struck women most of all:
The gender dynamics, too, have been noted:
“It’s extremely disturbing that she was being medicated and treated against her will—always involuntary treatment requires additional court involvement and proof that the proposed treatment is the least invasive option,” Goldberg says. “It sounds as though the conservators were going far beyond what they would have had the legal powers to do—and they were using the threat of further loss of liberty and public exposure in court—to keep her submissive.”
When the hearing ended, Spears’ conservatorship was still intact. The judge could end the conservatorship effective immediately or if she wanted to expedite the petitioning to end it, Goldberg notes. It is unclear how long the process might take.
You can read the full transcript of Spears’ statement here.
This piece has been updated with quotes from Carrie Goldberg.