ASAN applauds the US House of Representatives for passing the Food and Drug Amendment Act of 2022 (HR 7667) with a provision that would ban the use of the electric shock devices at the Judge Rotenberg Center. For decades, disabled advocates have fought to end the use of electric shocks at the JRC. The inclusion of the ban language in this bill is a critical step towards ensuring that no one is subject to torture in the name of “treatment.”
In 2020, after decades of advocacy from disability advocates, the FDA banned the use of electric shock for behavior modification. Unfortunately, the FDA’s ban was struck down on technical grounds in 2021. Now, people with disabilities are relying on Congress to fix this problem and ban the use of these harmful devices. The bipartisan effort to #StopTheShock was included in the House bill.
The passage of the House Bill was preceded by crucial pressure at the state level through the introduction of a bill in the New York state legislature that would ban New York State from sending people with disabilities to the Judge Rotenberg Center. On Wednesday, May 4th, Sen. Jabari Brisport & Am. Harvey Epstein stood with disability rights advocates in announcing new legislation targeting facilities that use electric shocks on people with disabilities.The bill, “Andre’s Law,” is named in honor of Andre McCollins, a survivor of electric shock torture and other forms of aversive conditioning. Andre’s Law resulted in a huge state mobilization, the type of pressure that is key to finally putting an end to this barbaric practice. While the New York state legislature entered recess before the bill could be passed this term, the widespread, bipartisan support Andre’s Law garnered indicates the importance of similar legislation at the federal level.
We call on the United States Senate to include an amendment to ban the use of electric shock devices used to “treat” self-injurious or aggressive behavior in their version of the bill. For decades, our community has advocated to ban the use of these devices, which are now only used on people with disabilities at one institution. We are not alone in this fight; in 2019, over 290,000 people signed a petition in support of the ban and 244 organizations signed on to a letter urging the FDA to finalize its rule to ban these devices. These thousands of people are still waiting for a meaningful end to the suffering of our community members at the Judge Rotenberg Center.
ASAN will not rest until no one is subject to electric shock torture. For the ban to pass into law, we need the Senate to pass their version of the bill, the FDA Safety and Landmark Advancements Act, with an amendment banning electric shocks. Advocates can use our action alert to call on the Senate to act swiftly. The safety and independence of our community is on the line – now more than ever, we must let those who represent us know that there will be nothing about us without us.
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network seeks to advance the principles of the disability rights movement with regard to autism. ASAN believes that the goal of autism advocacy should be a world in which autistic people enjoy equal access, rights, and opportunities. We work to empower autistic people across the world to take control of our own lives and the future of our common community, and seek to organize the autistic community to ensure our voices are heard in the national conversation about us. Nothing About Us, Without Us!