Forcing Someone to Keep an IUD in Is a Form of Abuse

“I have an IUD in my body right now that won’t let me have a baby and my conservators won’t let me go to the doctor to take it out," Britney Spears said Wednesday.
Hannah Smothers
Brooklyn, US
Britney Spears attends the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards at Madison Square Garden on August 28, 2016 in New York City.
Kevin Mazur/Contributor via Getty

During her testimony on Wednesday afternoon, Britney Spears alleged that her conservatorship extends to her body, and that the people who control her affairs refuse to allow her to remove her IUD..

“I have an IUD in my body right now that won’t let me have a baby and my conservators won’t let me go to the doctor to take it out,” Spears said. “I want to be able to get married and have a baby.” 


While the revelation was buried pretty deep in Spears’ testimony, experts were quick to react: Controlling a person’s reproductive ability is an unfortunately common and unambiguous form of abuse. As Planned Parenthood president Alexis McGill Johnson and others in the reproductive health space have pointed out on Twitter, the control Spears alleges her conservators are exercising is more broadly known as “reproductive coercion.”

Most definitions of reproductive coercion focus on it as a facet of intimate partner violence; the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists explains it as “behavior intended to maintain power and control in a relationship related to reproductive health by someone who is, was, or wishes to be involved in an intimate or dating relationship with an adult or adolescent.” But reproductive coercion can take many forms: It can look like anything from poking holes in condoms and forced hysterectomies to forcing someone to stay on birth control, against their choice or will.

While Spears’s conservators may not be her intimate partners, if the situation is as Spears represented it in her testimony, her conservators would be eliminating her chances of getting pregnant of her own volition and exercising power and control over her reproductive health. Or, as the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization that focuses on sexual and reproductive health, put it on Twitter: “Forcing someone to be on birth control against their will is a violation of basic human rights and bodily autonomy. Reproductive coercion is reprehensible, no matter what form it takes.” 

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