ACLU Comment on FDA’s Final Rule to Ban Electrical Stimulation Devices

March 4, 2020 2:45 pm

Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Office of Congressional Appropriations published a final rule today to ban electrical stimulation devices (ESDs). These devices were marketed as “treatment” options — solely for people with disabilities — to reduce or stop self-injurious or aggressive behavior by administering painful, electrical shocks. The FDA has now banned these devices, stating they present an unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury.

Susan Mizner, director of the ACLU’s Disability Rights Program, had the following reaction:

“Using what are essentially human cattle prods to shock people with disabilities into compliance is simply barbaric. For over 40 years, the disability rights movement has fought to ban the use of abusive ‘behavioral treatment’ methods such as these ESDs. The FDA’s decision today banning their use should be seen as a necessary and important first step to securing a broader prohibition on the use of aversive interventions.

“People with disabilities deserve the right to be supported with dignity and respect, and there are no circumstances under which they should be subjected to pain as a means of behavior modification.”

Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.

ACLU's Vision

The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.