Psychotropic Drugs to Migrant Children Ruled Illegal Without Consent

Dolly M. Gee, US District Judge for the Central District of California

(From The Guardian)

A federal judge in California [Dolly M. Gee, US District Judge for the Central District of California] has ruled that the government may not administer psychotropic medication to migrant children in residential centers without first obtaining a court order or consent from a parent or guardian.

The decision relates to a suit alleging that children under the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) were routinely given anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs, sometimes by force, after being separated from their parents at the southern border.

“Sometimes they give me forced injections,” one child alleged in filings by the Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law. “One or two staff hold my arms, and the nurse gives me an injection.”

The court ruled that the medicating, forced or not, was in violation of Texas child welfare law, which requires parental consent before providing psychotropic medication unless it is administered in a situation of medical emergency “to prevent the imminent probability of death or substantial bodily harm to the child or others”.

The 1997 Reno v Flores Settlement, which broadly dictates the conditions which the government can hold migrant children, requires that ORR comply with all state laws.

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