Britney Spears said many things when she addressed the court Wednesday and spoke for 20 minutes about the way her years-long conservatorship has affected her life, but one detail shocked her fanbase and fueled conversations about reproductive and disability rights.
“I want to be able to get married and have a baby,” she said during the hearing. “I was told right now in the conservatorship, I’m not able to get married or have a baby. I have (an) IUD inside of (me) right now, so I don’t get pregnant.
“I wanted to take the IUD out, so I can start trying to have another baby, but this so-called team won’t let me go to the doctor to take it out because they don’t want me to have any more children.”
Spears’ words reverberated on social media, and there were more than 1 million tweets about the 39-year-old in the span of 24 hours. Much of the conversation centered on this issue, which experts say has long been a controversial aspect of situations similar to the pop star’s.
“Britney Spears has experienced the nexus of sexism and sanism in the public eye and now the court system,” disability rights activist Rebecca Cokley said. “Having her right to parent, her right to work or not to work, her very right to bodily autonomy taken away for someone’s profit for 13 years is a public policy failure. One all too common for people with mental illness and developmental disabilities.”
A person under a conservatorship has “fewer rights than someone who is in prison,” said Judy Mark, president of Disability Voices United. “They cannot make even the most basic choices in their lives, like who they spend time with, where they live, who they can have a relationship with.”
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