HARRISBURG — Two Pennsylvania state representatives introduced a bill today to prohibit the use of electroconvulsive therapy on children in the Commonwealth.
House Bill 1809, introduced by Reps. Tom Murt (R-Montgomery/Philadelphia) and Stephen Kinsey (D-Philadelphia), would ban the treatment for people age 16 and younger. It is currently before the House Health Committee.
“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 in a press release. “Yet, kids are still being shocked today. This treatment can cause brain damage. To me, it’s a form of child abuse.”
“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 well-being.”
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, difficulties breathing, confusion, permanent memory loss, brain damage and death.
According to nationwide statistics, an estimated 100,000 Americans are subjected to ECT each year. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, it was reported that 13 children from birth to age 5 were given the treatment in 2014. Additionally, three adolescents between the ages of 13 and 17 were electroshocked that year.
“Children must not be subjected to this barbaric procedure,” Murt said.