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‘FreeBritney’: California restricts conservatorship


SACRAMENTO, Calif. –

California Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday signed a bill restricting legal guardianship granting legal guardianship to individuals, a move that comes after the Britney Spears guardianship case attracted controversy. national attention as she tries to regain control of her finances and livelihood.

The new law, led by Democratic Congressman Brian Maienschein, would require judges to document all alternatives to conservatorship before granting a right. It is in line with similar legislation passed in other states, following a push from supporters. In a statement, Newsom, a Democrat, said the state is committed to protecting the rights of people with disabilities in California.

People deemed unable to make certain decisions in their lives may be placed in legal conservatorship, in which a court-appointed conservator is given control of finances and other important aspects of their lives, sometimes without their consent. They usually involve people with developmental or intellectual disabilities or those with age-related problems such as dementia.

Advocacy groups argue that people like Spears, who has been under house arrest for nearly 14 years, may be trapped in a system that abolishes citizenship and the ability to advocate for themselves.

“This measure is an important step toward empowering Californians with disabilities to receive the support they need to care for themselves and their finances, while maintaining a degree of control over their lives. as large as possible,” Newsom wrote in a signing statement, calling the new law a “transitional reform to protect self-determination for all Californians.”

Spears, the Mississippi-born and pop singer who has openly struggled with her mental health, has been at the center of an extensive .FreeBritney campaign to regain pop singer power over her. her medical, personal and financial decisions. She alleges she became the victim of misconduct at the hands of her father, James Spears, her protégé.

Fans and supporters have rallied online and in person to draw attention to Spears’ situation. The New York Times and Netflix documentaries on the impact of Spears’ conservatorship have brought renewed attention to the case and the conservatorship process more broadly. She is a 26-year-old new mom who went through some mental health struggles during the height of her career in 2008, when her father sought conservatorship, which was at first only temporary. .

A judge in Los Angeles ended Spears’ conservatorship last year, a victory that followed legislative proposals to protect the rights of conservators and an effort to make it harder for people to end. .

Maienschein, who represents parts of San Diego, thanked the governor in a statement, noting the importance of ensuring autonomy for people with disabilities.

The new law will allow potential conservators to prioritize conservator selection and make it easier to end probate conservatorships.

Disability Voices United considers news of Newsom’s decision historic.

The group wrote: “This law affirms that conservatorship is rare and is a last resort. “The default is that people with disabilities keep their rights and get support when they need it.”

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Sophie Austin is a corps member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for the Americas is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to cover covered issues.

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