This past week members of the Ohio House of Representatives unanimously
voted to remove the “R-word” from all state laws. Rather than
use the outdated and controversial term “mental retardation”,
HB 158 will instead insert “intellectual disability” into
the code. In recent years, the term ‘mentally retarded’ has
come under strict scrutiny as it evokes unfair and offensive feelings
towards anyone with a disability.
This comes just a few months after Indiana passed a similar law which aimed
to remove the same offensive language. These changes both stem from Rosa’s
Law, a 2010 federal initiative signed into law. Rosa’s Law aimed
to eliminate the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally
retarded” from all language in federal education, health and labor laws.
The Ohio legislature passed HB 158 without a single vote in opposition.
While these changes reflect an increased awareness of the issue, it is
only a small step towards a greater goal. People diagnosed with an intellectual
disability are often misunderstood and our society’s archaic way
of treating those who suffer from debilitating illnesses should be at
the forefront of any such legislative agenda. While it is difficult to
be disappointed in the changes that are occurring, it is only a small
nod to those who fight very hard attempting to provide our most vulnerable
citizens with the care they deserve.
Rather than focus on inconsequential and meaningless language that lies
in indecipherable state code, our government’s resources could be
better spent by improving health care (whether that care be long-term
or short-term), community outreach, and support for anyone affected by
an intellectual disability. Whether or not you know someone who is affected
by an intellectual disability, it is important for a society as a whole
to understand and empathize with those affected.
Hubert Humphrey once said “the moral test of government is how it
treats those who are in the dawn of life…the children; those who
are in the twilight of life…the elderly; and those who are in the
shadow of life…the sick…the needy…and the disabled.”
Perhaps not only our government, but collectively as a society, we all
have failed. HB 158 may be politically correct, but it is far from the
standard for which we as a people should be holding ourselves.
The attorneys at Bleile & Dawson are extremely knowledgeable in criminal
law, especially when it comes to defending our clients against wrongful
accusations. If you need a
criminal defense lawyer in Cincinnati, hire a law firm that puts the client first and fights hard to protect
the client. Contact us today for a completely confidential consultation
at (513) 399-5945.