Britney Spears’s memoir, The Woman in Me, releases next Tuesday and the anticipation over what, exactly, she’ll reveal in the book has been building for weeks. PEOPLE has been releasing advance excerpts but they were scooped today by TMZ breaking the story: that Britney got pregnant when she and Justin Timberlake were together and that she had an abortion.
PEOPLE followed up with confirmation shortly after TMZ posted their exclusive. Per PEOPLE:
“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," Spears writes of the pregnancy in the book.
In the book, Spears reveals she had an abortion because Timberlake wanted her to.”
Doesn’t seem like PEOPLE was ready to go with this today. They have an exclusive with the publisher to release advance details and they would likely have planned schedule the drops every day until the book comes out. When TMZ beat them to it, they probably had to get their own post out there as soon as possible, and that might explain why there’s not much more context to PEOPLE’s report beyond what’s up on their site so far.
TMZ, however, is coming with a few more details, including the timeline:
“Multiple sources with direct knowledge of the book tell TMZ ... Britney felt Justin was the love of her life when they were together, and around late 2000 she learned she was pregnant. She says in the book she was raised not to get an abortion ... part of it was religious and part was just what she learned from her family.
According to the book, Britney wanted to have Justin's baby but was "conflicted," and after some difficult, emotional discussions, they both agreed getting an abortion was the right decision.”
Britney would have been 18 years old “around late 2000”. She was on tour for the early part of that year, so if what TMZ is reporting is accurate, she would have gotten pregnant in the fall of 2000, and had the abortion towards the end of the year. And then, just a few weeks later, right at the beginning of 2001, in January of that year, she hosts the American Music Awards. Which is when this now infamous photo happened:
Britney and Justin were still together after that, and would remain together for a little over a year later, eventually breaking up in February-ish of 2002.
For more context, there’s also this post on IG stories:
In the lead-up to Britney’s book, there were multiple reports that Justin was “concerned” about what she would say about him. Now we know why. And, as expected, this is blowing up on social media. It was bad for him when Framing Britney Spears was released.
It’s probably going to get worse now as people are sharing posts like this:
oh so britney spearsâ€™ everytime wasnâ€™t about justin timberlake but it was about the baby?!— 2000s (@PopCulture2000s) October 17, 2023
As I said earlier, we’re dealing with a whole book here, and it’s important to consider what’s said in its entirety in the book. What’s out there so far is salacious – because it’s a big story, that relationship was a big part of the culture, and the culture has been going through a period of interrogation and reflection over how Britney was treated and covered at the height of her fame. Right now we don’t know how she wraps up this particular recollection; it’s possible that she says that she doesn’t blame Justin for any of what happened; it’s possible that it’s not her intention to bring hellfire on him.
What people are mad about, though – and have been mad about – is how he did her dirty afterwards, after they broke up. How he implied that she cheated on him to promote his own solo career, and now, with this new bombshell, when the public considers that period of time, they now know that while he was trashing her reputation to advance his, they had been through a pregnancy and an abortion together. Which, obviously, is not the kindest way to treat someone who was in love with him at the time, and had very complicated feelings about possibly becoming a parent, and who we since know was being pressured from all sides as she was such a huge star, making money for so many people. Britney has said many times in the subsequent years that she was prevented from making decisions for her own life. The way these excerpts are making it sound, this was another example. And so, just a year later after all this happened, for Justin to have been out here with his music videos and his interviews throwing her under the bus…
It's not a good look, an understatement.
He, too, was young, though. He was in his early 20s. We make mistakes when we’re young and stupid. I certainly made mistakes on this site and said disgusting things, so some will say I’m in no position to judge Justin for his behaviour 20 years ago. But it’s always been about how he responded, and now it will be about how he responds to this. It’ll be interesting to see whether or not he does. Because that’s tricky, too.
Now is the time for Britney to tell her story. And we don’t need him to ME! ME! ME! all over her moment. There’s a way to do it, sensitively, but not without some serious strategy sessions.
As for Britney – I go back to reading the WHOLE story. Not just because in these times, it’s more important than ever to get the whole story. But because… well… this is how we all did Britney dirty in the first place. By only paying attention to bits and pieces reflected through multiple levels of media, to the point where her words aren’t her own anymore. So it does her a disservice not to read HER book, all of her book, the way she laid out her book and the things she tells us in it, and consider it in its full context.
We're talking about this on The Squawk.