Lawmakers revealed bipartisan legislation to protect individuals under guardianships and conservatorships from abuse and exploitation. The bill is timely because of the alleged abuse that superstar Britney Spears is suffering from her court-ordered conservatorship.
Democratic Representative Charlie Crist and Republican Representative Nancy Mace unveiled the Freedom and Right to Emancipate from Exploitation Act or the FREE Act on Tuesday.
“Under the FREE Act, we would Free Britney along with the countless number of seniors and persons with disabilities being abused and exploited by the broken system,” Representative Crist said.
“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. Our bipartisan bill will do more than #FreeBritney, it will give anyone in a conservatorship the right to petition the court for a public guardian with absolutely no conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise. This is a solid first step toward conservatorship reform. I want to thank Ms. Spears for her courage in coming forward.””
The Freedom and Right to Emancipate from Exploitation Act will allow individuals under a legal conservatorship the right to petition the court to replace their court-appointed caregiver with a public figure. The legislation also gives individuals independent caseworkers.
Spears’ case was highlighted in the New York Times documentary, “Framing Britney Spears.”
Jamie Spears, Spears father, has served as the pop singer’s guardian since 2008. During a hearing last month, Spears shared details about her conservatorship with a judge. Spears alleged that she is made to use birth control despite wanting children, forced to perform, and is taking lithium against her will.
“Her situation is a nightmare. If it can happen to Britney Spears, it can happen to anyone in this country. Conservatorships undoubtedly protect countless vulnerable Americans from abuse, but the case of Britney Spears reveals a darker side to a system meant to protect people,” Representative Mace said. “In some cases, conservatorships can rob capable and innocent Americans of their money, careers, and even basic human rights, like the right to reproduce in Spears case.
According to the Department of Justice, 1.3 million adults in the United States are under a conservatorship/guardianship.