“This conservatorship is doing me way more harm than good. I deserve to have a life. I’ve worked my whole life,” she said. “I feel ganged up on, I feel bullied, I feel left out and alone. I’m tired of feeling alone. I deserve to have the same rights as anybody.” Spears read a letter for over 20 minutes on the trauma she said she faced due to her conservatorship before Judge Brenda Penny.
Her main argument relied on the fact that if she was able to work and support herself and others, she should not need a conservatorship. “I shouldn’t be in a conservatorship if I can work. The laws need to change,” she said. “I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive. I don’t feel like I can live a full life.”
According to Spears, in addition to not being able to remove her IUD, Spears was forced to perform at shows and take drugs she did not want including lithium at a mental health facility.
“Lithium is a very, very strong and completely different medication than what I’ve been on. You can go mentally impaired if you take too much, stay on it longer than five months,” Spears said. “I felt drunk. I couldn’t even stick up for myself. I couldn’t even have a conversation with my Mom or Dad about anything. I told them I was scared and they had six different nurses come to my home to monitor me while I was on this medication that I didn’t want to be on to begin with.”
Spears linked her situation to that of sex trafficking noting that she worked seven days a week with no access to her credit card, cash, or passport. Additionally, Spears shared the depth in which her decisions did not matter through an example of when she spoke up about a performance and objecting to the choreography. “I’m not here to be anyone’s slave. I can say no to a dance move.”
“I need your help,” she pleaded with the judge. “I don’t want to be sat in a room for hours a day like they did to me before. They made it even worse for me.”
According to The New York Times, Spears’ father was granted conservatorship in 2008 after concerns about her mental health and potential substance abuse were brought to light. While Spears expressed consistent concerns of her father’s abuse and reluctance to have him be in charge of her conservatorship she was disregarded.
Judges in charge of hearing arguments in her case allegedly dismissed her father’s history of violence, including a restraining order placed against him by Spears’s ex-husband Kevin Federline. But while her father’s history of violence and substance abuse went ignored, Spears for decades was made out to have her personal, professional, and anatomical decisions made by someone else, including her father who she expressed not wanting to have involvement with.
In her testimony Wednesday, Spears spoke of this double standard and former demands made by a judge that she establish “a healthy relationship with a therapist and returned one year’s worth of clean drug tests” if she wanted courts to even consider an end to her conservatorship.
“The last time I spoke to you, it made me feel like I was dead, like I didn’t matter. Like you thought I was lying. I’m not lying, so that maybe you understand the depth and degree, I deserve changes,” Spears said. “I just want my life back. It’s been 13 years and it’s enough.”
According to court records obtained by The New York Times, Spears’s testimony this week follows a request that she be allowed to talk to the judge directly. Prior to this Spears raised issues with her father’s role in the conservatorship at least seven years ago and even asked about terminating the conservatorship completely but her lawyer had not filed to do so.
“It’s embarrassing and demoralizing what I’ve been through, and that’s the main reason I didn’t say it openly,” Ms. Spears said. “I didn’t think anybody would believe me.” Spears said noting that she was unaware she could petition to end the arrangement. “I’m sorry for my ignorance,” she said, “but I didn’t know that.”
In response to Britney’s testimony, her father’s attorney, Vivian Thoreen, told CNN: “He is sorry to see his daughter suffering and in so much pain. Mr. Spears loves his daughter, and he misses her very much.”
The issue has sparked national outrage on the issues disabled folks and those requiring conservatorships face. While it is unfortunate it has taken this long for the issue to get public attention, it does give hope that reform may be possible. Not only was Spears allegedly unaware she could petition to end her conservatorship but was represented by attorneys chosen by her conservatorship in the first place, all issues within the laws in place.
Campaigns in support of Spears have spread nationally under the hashtag #FreeBritney, but the issue is not just about her—her situation only sheds light on the greater issues of conservatorship as a whole.
“It is incredibly distressing to hear the trauma that Britney Spears has been through—including the appalling news that she has not been able to remove her own IUD,” Planned Parenthood said in a statement. “We stand in solidarity with Britney and all women who face reproductive coercion. Your reproductive health is your own—and no one should make decisions about it for you. Every person should have the ability to make their own decisions about their bodies and exercise bodily autonomy.”