Senate To Consider Striking ‘Mental Retardation’ From Law
The Senate is expected to consider a measure this week to replace the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability” in some areas of federal government.
The bill known as “Rosa’s Law” is scheduled to be considered by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension committee on Wednesday.
Under the proposed law, there would be no change to the rights of individuals with disabilities, but the terminology used in federal health, education and labor policy would be altered.
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Several states have already passed similar laws and some federal agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention already use the term intellectual disability, according to Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., who introduced the bill last fall. What’s more, recommendations for the upcoming fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders released earlier this year also call for the term “mental retardation” to be done away with in the medical field.
Earlier this year, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel inadvertently called attention to use of the word “mental retardation” when he was quoted using a variant of the term in a newspaper article, angering many in the disability community. As a result, Emanuel signed onto a pledge sponsored by Special Olympics, committing himself to helping end use of the term. Advocates also asked for Emanuel’s help in securing passage of Rosa’s Law.
If passed by the committee, Rosa’s Law would need approval from the full Congress and the president before becoming law.
Correction: This article has been corrected to reflect that the proposed bill would alter the terminology used in some, but not all areas of federal government.