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Electric Shocks Should Never Be Used on People With Developmental Disabilities

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On Tuesday, July 6, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit overturned a 2020 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ban on the use of electric shock devices on developmentally disabled children and adults.

The court, in its 2 to 1 decision, ruled that the ban regulated the “practice of medicine,” rendering it beyond the FDA’s authority.

The question of how electric shocks constitute medicine is not immediately apparent. In the crosshairs of the case is the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Massachusetts, which is the only school in the United States that manufactures and uses the Graduated Electronic Decelerator (GED), which delivers electric shocks for “aggressive” and “self-injurious” behavior.

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