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Democratic senators ask FDA to ban device used to shock disabled students

Democratic senators ask FDA to ban device used to shock disabled students
© Greg Nash

Eight Democratic senators asked the FDA in a signed letter to ban the use of a device, available exclusively in Massachusetts, used to administer electric shocks to disabled students.

The letter, dated Monday, called on the agency to finalize a rule banning the devices after issuing a proposed rule nearly four years ago in April 2016.

The FDA announced in 2018 that it intended to issue a final rule by December 2019, with then-Commissioner Scott Gottlieb saying “we believe these products present an unreasonable and substantial risk to public health that cannot be corrected or eliminated through changes to the labeling.” However, the agency missed the deadline, which the senators called “unacceptable.”

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Signers of the letter include Sens. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayPlaintiff and defendant from Obergefell v. Hodges unite to oppose Barrett's confirmation Overnight Health Care: Trump takes criticism of Fauci to a new level | GOP Health Committee chairman defends Fauci | Birx confronted Pence about Atlas Government watchdog to investigate allegations of Trump interference at CDC, FDA MORE (D-Wash.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersIntercept bureau chief says congressional progressives looking to become stronger force in 2021 Obama book excerpt: 'Hard to deny my overconfidence' during early health care discussions Americans have a choice: Socialized medicine or health care freedom MORE (I-Vt.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyBitter fight over Barrett fuels calls to nix filibuster, expand court Democrats warn GOP will regret Barrett confirmation Democrats brace for nail-biting finish to Senate battle MORE (D-Conn.), Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseySenate Democrats hold talkathon to protest Barrett's Supreme Court nomination Two Loeffler staffers test positive for COVID-19 Healthcare, retirement security seen as top issues for older voters, lawmakers say MORE Jr. (D-Pa.), Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineDemocrats brace for nail-biting finish to Senate battle Democratic Senate emerges as possible hurdle for progressives  Two Loeffler staffers test positive for COVID-19 MORE (D-Va.), Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanGOP coronavirus bill blocked as deal remains elusive Hollywood gives Biden's digital campaign final star-studded push Democrats step up hardball tactics as Supreme Court fight heats up MORE (D-N.H.), Tina SmithTina Flint SmithThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Justice Barrett joins court; one week until Election Day The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden prepare to make final pitches to voters Minnesota Senate candidate Jason Lewis undergoes 'successful' hernia surgery MORE (D-Minn.) and Doug Jones (D-Ala.).

“That ESDs [electric shock devices] continue to be used on children and adults with disabilities as punishment is unacceptable. In one case, brought to light in an expose, a young man was shocked 31 times, ending up in a hospital due to the trauma and physical effects,” the senators assert.

“This practice must be stopped without delay. We urge you to finalize the proposed rule and take immediate action to ban the electric shock of people with disabilities.”

Murray also commented on the practice of using the device independently. 

“It is unconscionable that in 2020, it is still legal to shock children and adults with disabilities as a method to control behavior. We have an obligation to protect children and adults with disabilities from archaic and inhumane forms of punishment — no more excuses, the FDA needs to finalize this rule immediately,” Murray said in a statement.  

The device in question is used in the Judge Rotenberg Education Center in Canton, Mass.

Officials have argued the devices are necessary to prevent self-injuring behavior, and Marie Washington, president of the Judge Rotenberg Center Family Association, accused critics of practice of putting students “in danger of losing the only safe and effective treatment available to them," according to WGBH.