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Britney Spears-inspired bill introduced to rein in conservators' birth control authority

Inspired by the singer's plight, U.S. Rep. Jason Smith's bill would stop conservators from being able to force birth control on their charges.
Britney Spears - \"I Am Britney Jean\"
Britney Spears in the 2013 documentary "I Am Britney Jean," which details her personal and professional lives.Michelangelo Di Battista / Sony / RCA via Getty Images

Citing Britney Spears' dramatic testimony that her conservators were blocking her from removing a contraceptive device, Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., introduced a bill to make it harder for conservators to do so in the future.

"By sharing her story, Britney Spears has exposed an injustice that should not have happened. No woman should be forced to have an IUD without her consent," Smith said in a statement. "Congress can and should put a stop to this terrible practice."

The Conservatorships Immoral Relationship with Contraception in the United States — or CIRCUS — Act would exclude health care providers from federal health care programs if they require a conservator's consent to remove a contraceptive device from the subject of a conservatorship or knowingly prescribe contraception to a person subject to a conservatorship without the written consent of that person, Smith's office said.

In public testimony last month seeking to end her 13-year conservatorship, Spears alleged that she wanted to have her intrauterine device removed so she could have another baby but that her conservators would not allow it.

"I was told right now in the conservatorship, I'm not able to get married or have a baby. I have an IUD inside of myself right now so I don't get pregnant. I wanted to take the IUD out so I could start trying to have another baby," Spears testified. "But this so-called team won't let me go to the doctor to take it out because they don't want me to have any more children. So basically, this conservatorship is doing me way more harm than good."

Smith isn't the only lawmaker paying attention to Spears' case.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said this month that what was happening to Spears is "freaking ridiculous" and "needs to end."

Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bob Casey, D-Pa., wrote Attorney General Merrick Garland and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra seeking data about how widespread problems with guardianships and conservatorships could be.

"Ms. Spears' case has shined a light on longstanding concerns from advocates who have underscored the potential for financial and civil rights abuses of individuals placed under guardianship or conservatorship," they wrote in a letter that was shared with Time. "Despite these concerns, comprehensive data regarding guardianship (referred to as conservatorship in some states) in the United States are substantially lacking — hindering policymakers and advocates' efforts to understand gaps and abuses in the system and find ways to address them."