As the country is riveted on the plight of a beautiful, rich and famous young woman struggling with a controlling and costly conservatorship, a growing number of ordinary individuals equally impacted by the abuses that are part and parcel of conservatorship are speaking out.
Britney Spears has become the focal point for a rallying to end abusive conservatorships, also known as guardianships, country wide. While troubling details of control, personal, medical and financial, of the star have now been revealed, there are mounting reports of even more troubling abuses across the US, impacting ordinary individuals.
In a recent and comprehensive rundown of the Spears conservatorship, New Yorker reporter Ronan Farrow tips his hat to this reality, reporting:
Conservatorships can protect people who are elderly, or who live with profound disabilities or catastrophic mental illness. But there is also a wide range of alternatives to conservatorship that are less strict than what Spears has experienced, such as conditional powers of attorney or formal shared control of finances. As conservatorship law is written, the court is required to determine that a conservatorship is—and remains—necessary. “In practice,” Zoë Brennan-Krohn, a disability-rights attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, said, “this is absolutely not the case. What should be happening is that a judge at a reevaluation hearing would ask, ‘What else have you tried? Why isn’t anything else working?’ And, if the conservator hasn’t shown that they’ve tried less restrictive options, the conservatorship should be suspended. But I’ve never heard of a judge asking that in any situation.”
So while the country is discussing the lurid details of Britney’s efforts to secure a cell phone so that she can make appeals to a lawyer and the report that she has been forcibly implanted with an IUD to keep her from getting pregnant, the reality is that thousands, if not many more, Americans are experiencing even more severe deprivation of rights due to these proceedings.