Action Alert: URGENT #StopTheShock

Image of a person holding a big white sign with the words Stop the shocks sign captured by Fox25 Boston during a protest against the Judge Rotenburg Center.

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network for has made us aware of a new and critical threat to the FDA’s proposed ban on electric shock devices such as those used at the Judge Rotenberg Center. 

Just now, it appears that Andy Harris, Chair of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration Subcommittee added language that is designed to exclude the JRC from the FDA’s device ban authority

“They’re trying to sneak this in without us noticing. They think they can avoid listening to the people they represent. Don’t let them.” – The Autistic Self Advocacy Network

ASAN has asked everyone to do whatever outreach they can to the offices of appropriators, particularly those in the Ag-FDA subcommittee (see list below).

The Subcommittee’s markup is this evening, so we’re hoping to apply as much pressure as we can starting immediately.

The appropriations bill text is here, and this is the provision at issue:

“SEC. 722. Section 516(a) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. section 360f(a)) is amended—by inserting ‘‘, except for devices that are authorized or ordered for an individual by a court of competent jurisdiction’’ after ‘‘to make such intended use or uses a banned intended use or uses’’.” Since every person who is on the shock device at JRC is receiving it under court order, this would essentially exempt the JRC from the FDA’s regulatory reach.

Our best chance to #StopTheShock is now at risk. With the clock ticking, we must convince the House that we won’t allow this torture to continue. 

Since the subcommittee markup is tonight, we’re urging everyone to push this out ASAP.  If it does pass sub-committee, we will also need to keep up pressure to get it stripped from the full committee bill.The Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act is should be a tool that tells the FDA and other Federal agencies what their budget is and how they can spend the money. The House is proposing a rider — a last minute add-on to the bill — that says the FDA cannot ban a device that is used by court order. This bill text would stop the FDA from banning these devices at JRC, taking the choice to #StopTheShock out of the public’s hands after more than 4 decades of advocacy. 

What can you do?

FLOOD THE LINES – if your Representative is not on the subcommittee (see the list below), call the subcommittee staff leads, Pam Miller (202-225-2638) and Martha Foley (202-225-3481).

You can use ASAN’s sample script or a message of your own:

My name is [your full name], and I am from [your city]. I am a constituent of Representative [Name]. I’m calling to oppose Section 722 of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. This rider takes away the FDA’s ability to ban the use of electric skin shock for behavior modification. Only one institution in the country still uses electric shocks this way, and the UN found the practice to be torture in 2013. The FDA’s proposed rule to ban the devices this year received hundreds of public comments in support of the ban, and this bill would take that decision away. The House must make sure the people they represent are heard. Please do whatever you can to get this rider removed!

If your Representative is on the subcommittee, call their office directly using the same script. 

The members are:

  • Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD)Chair: (202) 225-5311
  • Rep. David Valadao (R-CA): (202) 225-4695
  • Rep. John Moolenaar (R-MI): (202) 225-3561
  • Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA): (202) 225-5816
  • Rep. Julia Letlow (R-LA): (202) 225-8490
  • Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA): (202) 225-5431
  • Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-IA): (202) 225-2911
  • Rep. Jerry Carl (R-AL): (202) 225-4931
  • Rep. Scott Franklin (R-FL): (202) 225-1252
  • Rep. Sanford Bishop, Jr. (D-GA)Ranking Member: (202) 225-3631
  • Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME): (202) 225-6116
  • Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL): (202) 225-2976
  • Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH): (202) 225-4146
  • Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA): (202) 225-2661
  • Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL): (202) 225-7931

Use this script to contact your Representative:

My name is [your full name], and I am from [your city]. I am a constituent of Representative [Name]. I’m calling to ask Representative [Name] to oppose Section 722 of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. This rider takes away the FDA’s ability to ban the use of electric skin shock for behavior modification. Only one institution in the country still uses electric shocks this way, and the UN found the practice to be torture in 2013. The FDA’s proposed rule to ban the devices this year received hundreds of public comments in support of the ban, and this bill would take that decision away. The House must make sure the people they represent are heard. Can I count on Representative [Name] to oppose this rider?

If you need help calling, comment with your name + the person you want contacted here and ask for someone to call on your behalf. It is vital that we call TODAY.

Once you’re done calling, you can email using ASAN’s tool here. If your Representative is on the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration subcommittee, email their office directly! If your Representative is not on this subcommittee, you can email the subcommittee staff leads. Our tool will automatically email the right people for you. Then, get the word out by sharing on social media!

Our community can’t wait — we must push toward ending this torturous practice of shocks as behavioral control. Your advocacy will make sure we #StopTheShock for good. Thank you for taking action today!

See more info here: