What does Britney Spears need to do to end her conservatorship?

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CBS News 16 July, 2021 - 12:07pm 7 views

Why is Britney Spears in a conservatorship?

Britney was put under conservatorship following her very public breakdown in 2008. Following a year of seemingly erratic behavior—such as shaving her head and attacking a paparazzo's car with an umbrella—the singer was put under a "5150 hold" in a psychiatric hospital for a mental health evaluation. HarpersBAZAAR.comWhat Is the "Free Britney" Movement? - Britney Spears's Conservatorship Details

What is conservatorship abuse?

While there are a variety of ways that an elderly individual may be abused or exploited, one of the most common types involves financial exploitation. A common way for an individual to take advantage of an older individual is to become his or her conservator, or guardian. peckbloom.comWhat is Conservatorship Abuse?

When is Britney's hearing?

July 14, 2021 Britney Spears conservatorship hearing. cnn.comBritney Spears conservatorship hearing: Live updates

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Why #FreeBritney Is a Disability Rights Issue

Healthline 16 July, 2021 - 07:38am

If you ever slow-danced to K-Ci & JoJo, wore an abundance of Tommy Hilfiger, shopped at dELiA*s and Wet Seal, or doused yourself in Victoria’s Secret Love Spell perfume, you likely came of age with the perky blonde pop star.

I know I watched her on the Mickey Mouse Club and MTV’s Total Request Live right when I was newly diagnosed with my own lifelong medical condition. She captivated me and countless others.

In fact, Spears has shaped the landscape of pop culture with every slick dance move, iconic music video, multi-million dollar concert tour, and sassy-yet-down-home “clap-back” to reporters. That is, when she was still allowed to speak or sing on a hot mic.

Nowadays, we rarely hear her famous Valley Girl/Southern drawl/baby voice hybrid. We rarely hear from her at all, save for the occasional eccentric Instagram video.

That all changed in late June when she finally got to speak in court at an unsealed hearing after years of being all but silenced.

During the hearing, Spears detailed how, throughout the duration of her conservatorship, she had been silenced, isolated, medicated, exploited, and emotionally manipulated and abused.

She likened her situation to sex trafficking — and it’s being taken nearly just as seriously, with shows of support from various bipartisan members of Congress and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), among others.

You see, Britney Spears has been fighting a legal battle for about 13 years now. Many people have heard of her conservatorship in theory, without really knowing what it is and what it means.

In short, Spears has, for all practical intents and purposes, been stripped of personhood under the law. Every single decision in her life is allegedly made for her. She says she can’t remarry or remove an IUD, so she can have another baby. She has no control over her $59 million fortune.

She has reportedly been forced to work when she asked for a break, given medications she didn’t want, and been forced into mental health treatment facilities against her will.

The strangest part, to me, is that no one has denied this happening. In fact, many celebrities are now speaking up and speaking out about behaviors they’ve seen through the years.

Spears is being mistreated — and all because of a mental health crisis in 2007.

What started as a fringe conspiracy theory, the #FreeBritney movement aims to allow Spears more autonomy in her life.

Perhaps inadvertently, its has gained traction for other reasons, too. It’s a women’s rights issue. It sheds light on the toxic entertainment industry. It’s relevant in the era of the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements.

As someone living with rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic conditions, for me, the most interesting “hot take” regarding the #FreeBritney movement is viewing it as a disability rights issue.

Britney Spears and disability rights? These don’t sound like phrases that would automatically come to mind — but the truth is that #FreeBritney is very much related to disability rights.

Many of you reading this will picture Spears with a shaved head, attacking a paparazzo with an umbrella.

“If Britney made it through 2007, you can make it through today,” the ableist memes mocked, with no regard for the fact that she was being stalked like human prey and going through a messy and devastating divorce, all after having two kids back-to-back.

She has talked about experiences with anxiety, something I think anyone in her situation would face.

But what did we, as a society, collectively do?

Instead of offering up support to the starlet-turned-young-mom who was clearly having a mental health crisis, we laughed at her pain, found amusement in her breakdown, and put no stop to the endless attacks by the media and others in her industry.

In early 2008, Britney was put in two separate 5150 involuntary psychiatric holds, which are put in place when someone is deemed to be a danger to themselves and others.

Yet, as consumers and fans, we watched as Spears was tearfully taken away in an ambulance, cameras in her face every step of the way.

A conservatorship in California (where Spears’ case is) is defined as: “a court case where a judge appoints a responsible person or organization (called the ‘conservator;) to care for another adult (called the ‘conservatee’) who cannot care for himself or herself or manage his or her own finances.”

A conservatorship, also called a guardianship, can be absolutely necessary for individuals living with certain medical conditions or disabilities. Typically, they’re reserved for severely disabled folks, including older adults with dementia.

According to Disability Rights California, conservatorships should only be used when there’s no other less restrictive option, such as power of attorney, a guardian, or court authorization of medical treatment. They should also be time-limited and reviewed regularly.

The organization stresses that: “Conservators should always act in concert with the conservatee’s wishes and needs. This means the conservator’s decisions should reflect, as closely as possible, the expressed or inferred preferences and choices of the conservatee.”

Under the right circumstances — when conservatorships aren’t being taken advantage of or exploited — this type of situation can be hugely beneficial to help a person’s finances and life stay intact. When executed properly and for reasons that don’t blur those moral-ethical-legal lines, conservatorships can save both livelihoods and lives.

Spears’ case is complicated. If she’s unwell enough to truly need the conservatorship, she shouldn’t be forced to work, as she says she has been.

If she’s well enough to work and remember complicated choreography and earn hundreds of millions of dollars, maybe she doesn’t need to have a complete lack of control in her life.

No one is saying that Spears wouldn’t benefit from a solid team of support around her: a business manager, a financial advisor, medical doctors, a therapist, a life coach, a trainer, an attorney, a publicist. That all makes sense.

But does living with mental health diagnoses mean that she should also lose her right to choose her own medical treatment? To marry? To have custody of her children? To work when and how she wants to? To control her reproductive rights?

Keeping her in this conservatorship reeks of ableism.

Britney’s actual diagnosis is sealed. Reports state that she has lived with anxiety and postpartum depression. Bipolar disorder is commonly cited, too. It’s none of our business, but provides important context.

Even if these things — or something else altogether — are true, does that mean she shouldn’t still get to live a full, thriving, productive life?

Does a mental health diagnosis or crisis — or other type of health problem or disability — mean that a woman should lose control not just over her career, but over her body, too?

To me, this sends the (untrue) message that a person with a mental health concern or a chronic medical condition is not fit to be a parent, to be gainfully employed, to make medical decisions, to be a wife, and so on.

Some of this is my opinion only, but the fact is that Spears is quite obviously capable of, well, functioning.

She says she came up with and taught the choreography for her Vegas residency, which brought in more than $100 million in ticket sales.

Britney Spears may or may not live with a mental health problem or other physical/mental/emotional concern. She admits to needing therapy, despite preferring to “take it to God.”

But a lot of people live with health concerns. A lot of people need therapy.

Yet those people normally don’t lose access to their driver’s licenses, children, and bank accounts.

They don’t have their freedom and autonomy taken from them.

They aren’t part of a questionable system that’s ripe for corruption and conflict of interest. They aren’t a pawn in a game or a “cash cow” to keep quiet.

People say she looks “crazy” on social media, as though social media ever paints a true portrait of any of us. They act like her occasional goofy post or rambling caption justifies the legal hell she’s been stuck in for well over a decade — all because of an illness, a breakdown, a snapshot in time.

Spoiler alert: Even if Spears lives with a mental-emotional disability, none of that’s justified. Freedom isn’t something that should only be afforded to the healthy and sound of mind.

Britney Spears has been entertaining us for over 20 years. I ask: Isn’t it time we #FreeBritney and give her her life back?

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