Abolish Guardianship, Preserve the Rights of Disabled People, and Free Britney

By Sara Luterman: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Stripping a person of their legal rights is inherently dangerous and dehumanizing.

Guardianship only makes the news when something goes terribly wrong. Take Rebecca Fierle-Santoian: Acting as a professional guardian, she placed a do-not-resuscitate order on an elderly man who said that he wanted to live. He died. Fierle-Santoian served as the guardian for some 450 people, and it was later discovered that many of them were placed under DNRs or denied life-sustaining medical care without their input or permission or that of family members or the courts.

Or consider the case of William Dean, who was placed under state guardianship after his mother’s death. Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services sold his home for below market value, got rid of his beloved musical instruments, and euthanized his cat, Caterpillar. Most famously of all, there is Britney Spears and the ongoing battle over who should control the pop star’s life and sizable estate.

the problem is not a few individuals abusing their power; it is guardianship itself. Stripping a person of their legal rights is inherently dangerous and dehumanizing. Guardianship is built on the patronizing assumption that people with certain disabilities are incapable of being full citizens and need a nondisabled person to act as their proxy in all things. While I do not discourage reform, what we ultimately need is abolition.

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