Britney Spears’ IUD ordeal in Brazil could be sexual violence

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Britney Spears arrives for a film premiere in Hollywood, California on July 22, 2019.

Photo: Valérie Macon / AFP via Getty Images

there is a plastic device in the womb of pop star Britney Spears. She doesn’t want it there.

The purpose of the intrauterine device, or IUD, is to prevent Spears from having children. In court, she said she had wanted to remove the device for some time – so she could get pregnant. The guardians of his guardianship, according to his testimony in court, prevented him from seeing a doctor for the extraction.

“I wanted to remove the IUD so that I could start trying for another baby. But this so-called team won’t let me go to the doctor to get it out, ”Spears said at the June 23 hearing about his guardianship. “They don’t want me to have kids – more kids.”

In Brazil, we have a legal term to describe what Spears says happens to her and her womb: sexual violence. According to Brazilian law on domestic violence, any effort “that denies or limits” the “sexual and reproductive rights” of women is a form of sexual violence.

There is no indication that Spears’ guardianship sexually assaulted her under U.S. law, but there are lessons to be learned from examining her plight through international eyes. Spears was placed in guardianship 13 years ago because a court essentially found her disabled. Examining her case through the lens of the rights she would have in Brazil can shed light on the loopholes in U.S. laws that leave women with disabilities unprotected.

“If this happens to Britney Spears, who is very privileged, white, has a lot of money, what happens to the average woman with a disability?”

“I think what is happening to Britney Spears is tragic. I also think that this did not surprise people with disabilities at all. We all know it happens, ”said Dr Robyn Powell, professor of law at Stetson University in Florida, who herself has a disability. “If this happens to Britney Spears, who is very privileged, white, has a lot of money,” said Powell, “what happens to the average disabled woman?

Guardianship is established to give others decision-making power over the life of a person with a disability. Spears’ guardianship, overseen by his father, Jamie Spears, and others, is legally responsible for managing his wealth, relationships, schedule, etc.

Some details are obscure. Jamie Spears has denied in a court file that he has been involved in his daughter’s “personal affairs” since Jodi Montgomery, a professional trustee, joined the guardianship in 2019. Representatives for Montgomery told media: “Britney’s choice to marry and have a family have never been touched by guardianship ”since Montgomery joined the team. (Other Tories, such as a private trust that signed on to handle the finances, Spears’ attorney and manager, all recently asked to step down from guardianship.)

In California, guardianship authorities do not have control over medical decisions unless a court specifically orders it. In court testimony, however, Spears said the “team” actually had control over such decisions in her life, including her uterus.

Although IUDs do for excellent contraceptives, they are not without collateral side effects, as with any other form of contraception. They can cause increased menstrual flow, increased intensity and frequency of cramps, back pain and nausea. Even without symptoms, the body is deeply affected by the presence of the device. One version works with a copper coating that inflames the uterus to make it inhospitable to egg implantation and another works by releasing a localized dose of traditional hormonal contraceptive.

According to the United Nations, subjecting a woman to these processes against her will is a serious violation of her right to bodily autonomy, beyond the threat to her basic sexual and reproductive rights.

There are a lot of costs. An American whose motherhood right is denied would suffer the same psychological suffering as that of a Brazilian. The personal consequences of sexual violence are not bound by nationality or the existence of laws that punish or not such conduct.

American law has not caught up with this kind of violence and made it illegal, as Brazilian law has. This means that countless women are seeing their rights violated and have no official recourse.

Powell said there was “nothing specific to forced contraception” in US law. “I absolutely think this is a sexual assault,” said Powell, who believes forced contraception is the same as forced sterilization, which is under increased scrutiny in the United States. and has been legally banned in some states. “You still cannot have children, whether you take forced contraception or force sterilize someone,” she said. “It’s sterilization without surgery.

Unlike the United States, Brazil offers specific legal avenues for women to follow.

If Spears were a Brazilian citizen, the ban on taking an IUD under the Domestic Violence Law would make her a victim of sexual violence.

If Spears were a Brazilian citizen, the ban on taking an IUD under the Domestic Violence Law would make her a victim of sexual violence.

She would also benefit from protection under the Brazilian Disability Act, which would regulate Spears’ case. The law guarantees that people considered to be disabled can exercise the same sexual and reproductive rights as everyone else. Article 6 of the law states that “disability does not affect a person’s civil capacity” to “exercise the right to decide the number of children and to have adequate access to information on reproduction and reproduction. family planning “.

Brazilian laws comply with international standards. The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a document adopted by the United States and 188 other countries in 1995, declares that “forced sterilization and forced abortion, coercive / forced use of contraceptives” are ” acts of violence against women ”.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that all adult men and women have the right to found a family. The International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states that “people with disabilities should not be denied the opportunity to experience their sexuality, have sex and experience parenthood”. The United States has not ratified the treaty.

In the USA, the Americans with Disabilities Act states that individuals cannot be discriminated against because of a disability. “In theory,” said Powell, “this should prevent women with disabilities from having their reproductive rights completely ignored, but that is obviously not happening, as recent revelations from Britney Spears show.”

The US disability law makes no mention of sexual and reproductive health issues. Neither do other disability laws, which focus on issues of work, voting, education and other areas.

Laura Mauldin, associate professor at the University of Connecticut with a focus on disability, gender and family, explained that among disability advocates, there is a concept called assisted decision making: “The idea is to do trust people with disabilities to create their own decisions, including reproductive decisions, and develop a team of people the person with a disability trusts, and then discuss and develop the decisions.

Spears finally told the world about her situation after years of silence, fearing that no one would believe her. This week, Spears’ mother Lynne asked the court to allow the singer to hire her own lawyer so that she can, among other things, take control of her reproductive rights. Now it is up to Judge Brenda Penny to decide whether to give Spears her own freedom and give her the chance to take back control of her life – and her womb.


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