Actress Jamie Lynn Spears has spoken out again regarding the pressure that was put on her to have an abortion when she was just a teenager. In an episode of “I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!”, the now 32-year-old actress told her fellow contestants about how it felt to be pregnant at 16, and how the adults around her told her an abortion was her best option.
“When I first got pregnant,” she said through tears, “… They didn’t want me to have the baby.”
Spears was the star of Nickelodeon’s “Zoey 101” when she became pregnant while dating her then-boyfriend Casey Aldridge.
She continued, “After I finished ‘Zoey’, I had the love of my life, what I thought, I decided to keep the baby. I was 16. The whole world was like, ‘You’re a s**t, you’re horrible, your life is over ‘… Because I got pregnant young and I was on a kids’ show.”
She said her parents had a “lot going on” at the time and were “sad” that she was pregnant. “I had to go hide away for a long time because they were relentless.”
Spears moved to Mississippi and “literally hid” she said. “I had paparazzi on me every day, they wouldn’t leave me alone. I just wanted to be normal. I wanted my baby to be normal.”
Spears successfully stood strong against the pressure to have an abortion. Her baby girl, Maddie Briann Aldridge, is now 15 years old, and Spears and her husband Jamie Watson have since welcomed a daughter, Ivey Joan, who is five. Spears recently filmed the sequel film to “Zoey 101” and is a regular on the Netflix series “Sweet Magnolias.” She also recently made her musical debut.
This isn’t the first time Spears has spoken out about the pressure she faced to abort her daughter. In her book, “Things I Should Have Said,” she explained that people from her inner circle “… came to my room trying to convince me that having a baby at this point in my life was a terrible idea… ‘It will kill your career. You are just too young. You don’t know what you’re doing. There are pills you can take. We can help you take care of this problem… I know a doctor.’” She added, “[E]veryone around me just wanted to make this ‘issue’ disappear” and “everyone was certain that termination would be the best course of action.”
She said what mattered most to her family and those in control of her career were her image and her income.
Her sister Britney was also pressured to abort
Like Spears, her sister, singer Britney Spears, also became pregnant unexpectedly when she was dating fellow singer Justin Timberlake. However, when faced with pressure from Timberlake to have an abortion, Britney agreed. She said the pregnancy was a surprise, but for her, “it wasn’t a tragedy.” She said if it had been “left up to me alone, I never would have done it.”
She added, “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.” Britney underwent the abortion in secret at home, “crying and sobbing until it was all over.”
Of the abortion, she said, “To this day, it’s one of the most agonizing things I have ever experienced in my life.”
Abortion trauma and coercion
The pressure both sisters faced to have an abortion is unfortunately common. Sixty-four percent (64%) of women who have undergone an abortion have said they felt at least some form of pressure to abort — whether that was from the boyfriend or family members, or was due to educational or financial pressures. In addition, a study of women who have sought post-abortion counseling found that nearly 74% of those women felt some form of pressure to have an abortion. This disputes the idea that abortion is about freedom of choice.
Research shows that women who undergo abortions can experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. One study found that 20 percent of women struggled with clinical depression after an abortion. A study from the Charlotte Lozier Institute, “Effects of Pressure to Abort on Women’s Emotional Responses and Mental Health,” found that women who reported being pressured into an abortion by either their male partner or a family member reported statistically significant levels of negative emotions surrounding the abortion, interference with daily life, intrusive thoughts, abortion flashbacks, feelings of grief about the abortion, and increased levels of stress when answering questions about their abortion.
By Nancy Flanders | January 9, 2024