ACTION ALERT:  Tell the FDA: Ban Electric Shock Torture of People with Disabilities

On April 22, 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a proposed rule to ban the use of electrical shock devices such as those used at the Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton, Massachusetts. ASAN has issued a statement with more information here. The FDA is currently taking public comments on the proposed rule.

ASAN is preparing its own comments, but we also need all self-advocates and allies to submit your own public comments! The JRC’s supporters will undoubtedly be submitting comments of their own; it is crucial that the voices of self-advocates, our allies, and all those who oppose the inhumane use of electric shock to control the behavior of people with disabilities be heard. We need to send the message that these shock devices cause real harm and are never “medically necessary.”

To comment, go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal at!submitComment;D=FDA-2016-N-1111-0001 and follow the instructions to submit a comment.

We need your help to make sure that this proposed rule becomes an actual rule with real power. Below, we have some suggested language and scripts you can use in your public comments.

We can end the use of electric shock torture against people with disabilities in the United States. But we can’t do it without you. The deadline for sending in comments has been extended – which means more time for JRC supporters to send in THEIR comments. Now more than ever, it’s crucial that you let the FDA know that this rule should become law. SEND IN YOUR COMMENTS TODAY.

Suggested Script: 

[I, Name,] strongly urge the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to proceed with their proposed ban of electrical stimulation devices (ESD)s. Devices that deliver painful electric shocks pose an unreasonable and substantial risk of harm and have been the cause of incredible pain and suffering for people with disabilities. Their use is condemned by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture. 

The FDA is allowed to ban any medical device if it finds that the device presents a substantial and unreasonable risk of illness or injury. As the FDA notes in the proposed rule, there are and there have been countless adverse effects, both psychological and physical, of the use of these devices. There is no evidence that they are a valid or effective treatment. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the nation’s leading organization run both by and for Autistic people, has heard many firsthand accounts from people with disabilities who have had ESDs used on them. They report nightmares, overwhelming fear and anxiety, and traumatic memories associated with the use of these devices. Some have later developed psychiatric disabilities such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We have also seen records and videos from the only facility known to use the devices in the United States, the Judge Rotenberg Center, showing that these devices have frequently been used to abuse Judge Rotenberg Center residents. Although these devices can cause severe injuries, trauma, and distress even when used as intended, the potential for abuse poses yet another substantial and unreasonable risk. 

[Write why the FDA’s ban is important to you in a few sentences to a paragraph here. The FDA may discard your comments without this.]

I therefore urge the FDA to ban these harmful devices without further delay and their use in the United States. 

[End Script]