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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Opposition to Involuntary Electroshock

Approved by the NCIL membership July, 2011

WHEREAS, involuntary treatment of any kind is inherently damaging emotionally and physically;

WHEREAS, Electroshock (also called electroconvulsive therapy or ECT) has been documented to cause potentially permanent memory loss and cognitive deficits/learning disabilities and has a high risk of also causing epilepsy or other seizure disorders, cardiovascular complications and even death; 

WHEREAS, neither the safety nor the effectiveness of electroshock has been proven in the 73 years during which the procedure has been used, leading an advisory panel of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to recommend on 28 January 2011 that the FDA restrict devices used for electroshock until manufacturers prove safety and efficacy;

WHEREAS, the cost of electroshock averages $1,000-$2,500 per use and is usually administered to an individual six to twelve separate times at a minimum; and

WHEREAS all fifty states allow for court ordered involuntary electroshock often funded at tax payer expense through Medicaid or similar funding sources;

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED: by the membership of the National Council on Independent Living, That the imposition of any forced medical treatment is inherently opposed to the most basic principles of independent living;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That, NCIL will support efforts to request that the United States government including the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) publicly release the amount of taxpayer money spent annually funding involuntary electroshock; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That NCIL supports an individual’s right to personal choice, in accordance with the principles of independent living and will publicly support abolishing the use of involuntary electroshock.

Respectfully submitted by: The NCIL Mental Health Task Force

Supported by:

IndependenceFirst, Milwaukee, WI

Independent Living Council of Wisconsin

David Oaks, NCIL Member, Eugene, Oregon

Lake County CIL, Mundelein, IL

Julie Alexander, NCIL member, Milwaukee, WI

Mike Bachhuber, NCIL member, Madison, WI

Krista Erickson, NCIL member, Mundelein, IL

NCIL Mental Health Task Force

Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living