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Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Shocking Decision

In The Politics of Autism, I write:

For those who remain at larger residential institutions, the horrors of yesteryear have generally ended. In 2012, however, a ten-year-old video surfaced, showing disturbing image of an electric shock device at the Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton Massachusetts. Staffers tied one student to a restraint board and shocked him 31 times over seven hours, ignoring his screamed pleas to stop. The Rotenberg Center is the only one in the nation that admits to using electric shocks on people with developmental disabilities, including autism. Center officials said that they had stopped using restraint boards but insisted that shocks were necessary in extreme cases to prevent officials insist the shock program is a last resort that prevents people with severe disorders from hurting themselves or others.

Brendan Pierson at Reuters:

A federal appeals court has overturned the Food and Drug Administration's ban on the use of electric shock devices to correct aggressive or self-harming behavior in adults and children at a Massachusetts school for the developmentally disabled.

In a 2-1 opinion, the D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found that the ban was a regulation of the practice of medicine, which is beyond the FDA's authority. The ruling was a victory for the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center and a group of parents and guardians of its students, which had challenged the regulation.

Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan dissented, writing that, since the FDA could ban the device entirely, it was "hard to perceive why Congress could want to deny the agency that middle-ground option."

The case is The Judge Rotenberg Educational Center Inc v. FDA, D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, No. 20-1087.

From ASAN:

 The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is heartbroken and outraged by today’s court decision striking down a regulation that would have banned the use of the graduated electronic decelerator (GED), a skin shock device used on people with disabilities. These devices, which the United Nations has recognized as torture, involve causing severe pain in an attempt to control behavior and are only used at the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC), an institution in Massachusetts.