In a new memoir out next week, Britney Spears says she had an abortion some 20 years ago.
On Tuesday, People Magazine published excerpts from the upcoming book in which Spears, now 41, writes about her abortion of Justin Timberlake’s child.
“It was a surprise, but for me, it wasn’t a tragedy. I loved Justin so much. I always expected us to have a family together one day. This would just be much earlier than I’d anticipated,” she wrote in The Woman in Me. “But Justin definitely wasn’t happy about the pregnancy. He said we weren’t ready to have a baby in our lives, that we were way too young.”
“To this day, it’s one of the most agonizing things I have ever experienced in my life,” Spears added. “If it had been left up to me alone, I never would have done it. And yet Justin was so sure that he didn’t want to be a father.”
The pop star’s experience with abortion is far too familiar to millions of women. As Brenna Lewis wrote in these pages last year, “Widespread abortion regret is supported by data, yet seldom reported.”
The physical and psychological risks of abortion are well known to those of us who support post-abortive women. New studies have shown that women who have abortions are 81 percent more likely to experience subsequent mental health problems. This includes being 110 percent more likely to abuse alcohol and 115 percent more likely to develop suicidal behavior following abortion. Another study notes women who ended their first pregnancy by abortion are five times more likely to report subsequent substance abuse than women who carried the pregnancy to term and four times more likely to report substance abuse compared to those whose first pregnancy ended naturally.
Another peer-reviewed study published earlier this year found that more than 60 percent of women who had abortions reported “high levels of pressure to abort from one or more sources.”
Spears no doubt suffered mental meltdowns of her own that ultimately landed her in a 13-year conservatorship.
Spears and Timberlake eventually split as a celebrity couple in 2002, and Spears later became a mother to two children with her second husband, Kevin Federline. Federline and Spears ultimately divorced in 2007. Spears remarried last year following the termination of her conservatorship. But her latest husband, Sam Asghari, filed for divorce in August after just over a year of marriage.
In 2021, following a years-long campaign to “Free Britney,” Spears was finally let go of her father’s oversight under what she called an “abusive” conservatorship. Conservatorships are legal arrangements under which minors or incapacitated individuals must forfeit control of their finances and medical decisions to a court-appointed guardian. In her address to the L.A. courtroom upon the end of the arrangement, Spears revealed her conservators prohibited her from having more children through forced birth control in the form of an IUD.
According to the Department of Justice, 1.3 million adults are under “guardianship or
conservatorship cases” that collectively control at least $50 billion in assets. Spears’ father oversaw an estate estimated by Forbes to be worth about $60 million.
While conservatorships are typically reserved for minors or those who suffer severe debilitation from either old age or mental illness, Spears’ productivity under her father’s purview raised questions about the necessity of the arrangement. Since her 2008 breakdown that led to her loss of autonomy, Spears released four studio albums, went on three world tours, and completed a years-long concert residency in Las Vegas. The pop star was also featured as a host on the “X Factor,” and made cameo appearances on “Glee” and “How I Met Your Mother.”
The controversy inspired House lawmakers on Capitol Hill to demand hearings on conservatorships. In March 2021, Republican Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Matt Gaetz of Florida called Spears’ conservatorship “the most striking example” of abuse within the system of court-ordered conservatorships. The House hearing was never held under the Democrat House majority, but lawmakers in the upper chamber held one that fall.