Legislative Battles, Debates, New Laws

New Zealand
ECT Review Needed Says Committee
A Parliamentary select committee has concluded a comprehensive review is needed of the safety of electro-convulsive therapy in New Zealand.

Kentuckians would be entitled to sign an advance directive indicating what kinds of mental health treatment they prefer, under House Bill 99, approved by the House Health and Welfare Committee yesterday. The bill allows people with mental health conditions to voice their feelings on certain treatments, choose whether they want electroconvulsive or "shock" therapy, and designate someone to make sure their wishes are carried out when they show up for treatment in a crisis, said Sheila Schuster, director of the Kentucky Mental Health Coalition.

HB109 passes House - moves to Senate
A new bill, HB109, has been introduced in the Utah House. Please read this important bill, and send your support to the sponsoring representative.

Committee fails to vote on restricting electroshock therapy: A bill that would have banned those under the age of 18 and pregnant women from electroshock therapy was heard by a House committee Thursday night, which decided not to vote on the legislation.

United Kingdom
A response to the UK Mental Health Bill from someone who prefers to remain anonymous

New York State
On May 18, 2001, Assemblyman Marty Luster held public hearings on the issue of ECT.

Leonard Roy Frank
Linda Andre
Anne Krauss
John Friedberg, MD
John Breeding, PhD
Anna Szyszko, sister of Adam

Materials in the Luster Press Packet (Press conference held June 11, 2001)
*Press statement from Anna Szyszko (brother is *Adam)
*Press release from Assemblyman Luster
*Summary of the APA findings
*ECT practices in the community
*Summary from Mental Hygiene Legal Services
*Letter from Assemblyman Luster to Chairman Gary O'Brien of the NYS Commission on Quality of Care for the Mentally Disabled, expressing concerns over the treatment of Paul Henri Thomas and others, and asking questions of the chairman: Page 1 Page 2 Page 3

New bills have been introduced into the New York Assembly:

Analysis of the bills

Assemblyman Luster has introduced:
9081: Requires every facility which administers electroconvulsive therapy to provide full disclosure of the benefits and side effects of such therapy, gain the written consent of the patient to such therapy, include a copy of such disclosure and consent in the patient`s records, and establish a protocol for determining patients' capacity.
Summary | Bill Text

9082: Establishes the temporary advisory council on electroconvulsive therapy practices to make recommendations to the commissioner of mental health on rules and regulations to be adopted relating to such practices.

Summary | Bill Text

9083:Requires facilities which administer electroconvulsive therapy to report to the office of mental health on a quarterly basis and the use of such therapy; requires such office to annually report, on or before October 1, to the governor, temporary president of the senate and speaker of the assembly on the information received from such facilities.

Summary | Bill Text
9084: Requires every facility administering electroconvulsive therapy to be readily accessible to resources needed for emergency treatment while maintaining proximity to inpatient psychiatric units.
http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A09084 | Bill Text

Assemblyman Ortiz has introduced:
8960: Enacts provisions relating to the use of electroconvulsive therapy; bans the use of such therapy on persons less than 16 years of age and restricts the use of such therapy on persons 65 years of age or older.
Summary | Bill Text

More public hearings will be held July 18, 2001 in Albany to further investigate ECT, and, in particular, the issues of informed consent and procedural safeguards that may be necessary when involuntary, court ordered ECT is being considered.

News coverage:
New York Daily News: Shock Method Eyed
New York Post: Callous shock docs zap holes in people's lives
Angry Pol Would Rein in Zap-Hapy State Shock Docs
Dad's Rights Zapped by the Shock Docs
Electroshock turns Hillside to Hellside
Newsday: Shocking Treatment - Electroconvulsive therapy's return stirs debate on use

Missouri HB134
This bill would require quarterly ECT reporting in Missouri. It passed the House, but was defeated in the state Senate. Sen. Betty Sims opposed the bill, saying it was too "controversial." Channel 11 carried a brief report on the bill as it headed to committee.

New Hampshire
This bill is gaining support from nearly everyone but those who stand to profit. HB406 will prohibit ECT on children under the age of 16. New Hampshire organizers are urging those who have had ECT to tell their stories to concerned parties, particularly the legislators who sponsored the bill.

Activity in Texas
The state of Texas is a hotbed of ECT activity. It is one of the few states in the nation that keeps any kind of records on ECT treatments, and legislators there have introduced a number of bills trying to regulate ECT. And, because of the recordkeeping that does not exist in most states, regulatory agencies are able to keep track of violations.

  • Texas hospitals cited for too many treatments, forced treatments, inadequate medical screenings and other violations.
  • Houston hospital cited for numerous violations of state law.
  • Mental health director resigns under pressure.
  • Bill attempted to ban ECT in Texas

    Texas legislation
    Opponents of ECT introduce bill into Texas legislature that would outlaw the treatment. The bill was eventually voted down by Texas lawmakers, but this will likely remain an ongoing legislative battle.

  • Records show improper use of ECT in Texas hospitals
  • Woman's death adds to controversy.
  • Hospital pulls plug on shock treatments.
  • Patient claims ECT caused her problems
  • Texas passes watered-down ECT regulations.

    Testimony of Texas shock survivors who spoke in support of the Texas bill.

    Vermont House passes shock bill
    Morgan Brown reports on a controversial shock bill passed in January 2000 by the Vermont House of Representatives.

    The Journal of the Vermont House of Representatives
    The bill as introduced
    The bill as passed by the House.

    Banned in Italy
    Northern Italy bans shock on children, pregnant women and the elderly!

    More on the Italy news, from the British medical journal Lancet.

    Protesters call for ban in Alaska
    "In the U.S., a psychiatrist who uses ECT makes about twice as much as one who won't use it."

    ECT shocks to the health system
    Patients and researchers voice their concerns about ECT, Parliamentary Leader agrees to meet and discuss.

    Therapy return to Niagara sparks debate
    St. Catharines General Hospital has agreed to be the regional provider of shock therapy, sparking raging debate among mental health professionals over whether the technique helps or harms.
    Personal accounts of survivors.