Marketed as ‘liberating’ women from their reproductive systems, all too often contraceptives treat women’s bodies as objects to be controlled.
By Emily Grace Stark
July 2, 2021
Excerpted from The Federalist
In leaked footage of Britney Spears’s emotional testimony from a hearing to protest her legal conservatorship, Spears made a particularly disturbing allegation about her intrauterine device (IUD), a method of birth control. Spears wants her IUD removed, but alleges her conservatorship team is forcing her to keep it in her body against her will.
Trends in contraceptive use show long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) are some of the fastest-growing in popularity. Billed as “set it and forget it” contraceptive methods, LARCs include various forms of IUDs and subdermal implants. These devices are inserted into women’s bodies, preventing pregnancy for years, and cannot be safely removed by anyone except trained medical personnel (the lone exception is Depo-Provera, the “birth control shot,” which is injected into a woman’s body and prevents pregnancy until its effects wear off months later).
Some women have reported pushback from their doctors after asking to remove their IUDs, prompting them to turn to the internet for “how to” guides on removing devices themselves (especially at the height of the pandemic, when “routine” medical appointments were often difficult to secure).
Spears’s gut-wrenching testimony starkly illustrates that when women cede control of their bodies to devices like IUDs, it paves the way for an alarming loss of bodily autonomy — all the more horrific for women who were forced to have the device implanted in the first place. Marketed as “liberating” women from their reproductive systems, all too often contraceptives demean and diminish, further treating women’s bodies as objects to be controlled.