Kinsey, Murt introduce bill to ban electroshock therapy on Pa. children

HARRISBURG, Sept. 27 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., and Rep. Tom Murt, R-Montgomery/Phila., have introduced legislation (H.B. 1809) that would prohibit the use of electroconvulsive therapy on children across Pennsylvania.

“The use of electroshock therapy on children is outright cruel and unacceptable,” Kinsey said. “The side effects of ECT can be debilitating even for adults. Children should not be forced to undergo a treatment that can have a lasting impact on their physical and mental wellbeing.”

“While ECT remains a controversial treatment for adults, it’s deplorable when done on children who have no say on whether to agree to this brutal treatment,” Murt said. “Yet, kids are still being shocked today. This treatment can cause brain damage. To me, it’s a form of child abuse.”

ECT, also known as electroshock therapy, is used to treat a number of mental illnesses. It sends up to 450 volts of electricity through an individual’s brain, inducing a grand mal seizure. The Food & Drug Administration reports that these seizures can cause complications, including heart attacks, difficulty breathing, confusion, permanent memory loss, brain damage and even death.

“Many side effects of ECT can be dangerous for children who are still growing and developing into adults,” Kinsey added.

The nationwide statistics for ECT are alarming, with an estimated 100,000 Americans electroshocked each year. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, it was reported that in 2014, 13 young children from birth to 5 were given electroshock treatment. Additionally, three adolescents between 13 and 17 were electroshocked that year.

“Children must not be subjected to this barbaric procedure,” Murt said.

“Forcing one child to go through electroshock therapy is one too many,” Kinsey said. “It’s time for Pennsylvania to join other states across the country and ban the use of ECT on children. The lives of our children depend on it.”

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