Britney Spears: US House of Representatives introduces Bill to end conservatorship abuse

Inspired by singer’s case, Free Act would bring protection and oversight to ‘broken system’

#FreeBritney: Britney Spears supporters outside a court hearing in Los Angeles this month. Photograph: Emma McIntyre/Getty

#FreeBritney: Britney Spears supporters outside a court hearing in Los Angeles this month. Photograph: Emma McIntyre/Getty

 

Britney Spears’s fight to end her conservatorship has inspired a new bipartisan proposal in the US House of Representatives.

The Freedom and Right to Emancipate from Exploitation Act, or Free Act, would allow a person bound by a conservatorship – another name for a guardianship – to petition to replace their court-appointed private conservator with a public conservator, family member or private agent without having to prove abuse.

The Bill, introduced by the Republican Nancy Mace and the Democrat Charlie Crist, would offer state funding for case workers to oversee conservatorships. States accepting the funds would require case workers and public guardians to disclose their finances, as well as to provide annual reports on conservatorships.

“Abusive conservatorships can be an unending nightmare, and tragically we don’t know how many people are being held captive against their will under the broken guardianship system,” says Crist. “Under the Free Act, we would free Britney along with the countless numbers of seniors and persons with disabilities being abused and exploited by the broken system.”

“To see a woman like Britney Spears have her most basic human rights permanently stripped away from her under the guise of ‘protection’ should be illegal,” says Mace.

In June, Spears petitioned a Los Angeles court to end the conservatorship that has controlled her personal life, career and finances since 2008. In her explosive testimony, she said she had been forced to work against her will, blocked from marrying and removing her IUD to have a baby, and from being driven by her boyfriend in his car.

She accused her father, Jamie Spears – a co-conservator – of abuse and said that he and the team behind the conservatorship “should be in jail”.

In response, Jamie Spears filed documents claiming that he has had no power over his daughter’s personal affairs for nearly two years, and asked the court to investigate “serious allegations regarding forced labor, forced medical treatment and therapy, improper medical care, and limitations on personal rights”. His lawyers also said that his daughter should have the “right to give informed consent for her own medical treatment”.

On June 30th, a judge denied a request to remove Jamie Spears from the star’s conservatorship. The Bessemer Trust, the wealth-management fund that oversees Spears’s finances, resigned on July 2nd; her long-term manager, Larry Rudolph, followed suit four days later. Her court-appointed lawyer Samuel D Ingham asked to resign soon after.

Spears won a small victory last week when the court allowed her to appoint her own representation for the first time in the history of her arrangement. Mathew Rosengart, a former federal prosecutor who has represented Steven Spielberg and Sean Penn, replaces Ingham.

On July 20th, Rosengart said he is working “aggressively and expeditiously” to remove Jamie Spears as conservator “unless he resigns first”.

Since her widely praised court appearance, Spears has continued to share details of her experiences under the conservatorship on her social media. She apologised to fans for “pretending to be OK” in her offbeat Instagram posts.

In an Instagram post celebrating Rosengart’s appointment, Spears used the hashtag #FreeBritney for the first time. She later stated, “I’m not gonna be performing on any stages anytime soon with my dad handling what I wear, say, do, or think”.

In her latest Instagram post Spears wrote: “I think we all know that I will never be able to let go and fully move on until I’ve said all I needed to say – and I’m not even close !!!! I was told to stay quiet about things for so long and I finally feel like I’m just getting here ????????? !!!!” – Guardian

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