Britney Spears’s Conservatorship Is a Disability Rights Issue That Deserves More Attention
Fans and supporters of Britney Spears gather outside the County Courthouse in Los Angeles, Wednesday, June 23, 2021, during a scheduled hearing in Britney Spears' conservatorship case.

Under conservatorship, disabled adults face restrictions on a wide variety of rights: Where they live, when and where they work, money management, and  healthcare decisions. Conservatorships are often thought of as something that only happens to elderly people who can no longer care for themselves, people with terminal illnesses, or for people like me, who are diagnosed with autism or other intellectual and developmental disabilities. Because of the sensitive nature, proceedings relating to conservatorship are often private and confidential.

Sometimes I think about how, as an autistic person, I am extremely lucky that guardianship was not part of my adult life. I was once non-speaking and it was unclear what kind of support I would need as an adult. The support I needed as a little kid is not the same I needed as a college student, nor is that the same as the support I can use in my post-schooling life. Thankfully, I have parents who always believed in my ability to make decisions for myself and promoted my independence and choice to follow my dreams. Not all of us are as fortunate because parents of autistic and other disabled children may assume they will always be the best decision-makers, or are they are not told about less restrictive alternatives like supported-decision making, supplemental needs trusts, or other available options that aren’t incredibly difficult to reverse like conservatorship.

There is no doubt Britney Spears did the right thing in receiving or seeking mental health treatment over a decade ago. But losing her civil rights didn’t have to happen, nor should it continue to happen to people with disabilities. Instead, conservatorships and guardianships should be seen as an absolute last resort given how difficult they are to get out of — if Britney has been fighting to end her conservatorship for 13 years, imagine how difficult it is for disabled people who encounter numerous barriers to access to courts, lawyers, and education about their own rights, all who deserve respect and have opinions that should be heard and honored.

Read more in Teen Vogue.

Editorial credit: Ringo Chiu /

This is an external article from our library

Everyone is talking about caregiving, but it can still be difficult to find meaningful information and real stories that go deep. We read (and listen to and watch and look at) the best content about caregiving and bring you a curated selection.

Have a great story about care work? Use our contact form to submit it to us so we can share it with the community!

Related Articles

The Man in Room 117

The Man in Room 117

Three years ago, when he stopped taking his antipsychotic medication, her son withdrew into delusions, erupting in unpredictable and menacing...

Popular categories

After Caregiving
Finding Meaning
Finding Support

Don't see what you're looking for? Search the library

Share your thoughts


Share your thoughts and experiences

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Join our communities

Whenever you want to talk, there’s always someone up in one of our Facebook communities.

These private Facebook groups are a space for support and encouragement — or getting it off your chest.

Join our newsletter

Thoughts on care work from Cori, our director, that hit your inbox each Monday morning (more-or-less).

There are no grand solutions, but there are countless little ways to make our lives better.

Share your insights

Caregivers have wisdom and experience to share. Researchers, product developers, and members of the media are eager to understand the nature of care work and make a difference.

We have a group specifically to connect you so we can bring about change.