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 Rather than use the outdated and controversial term “mental retardation”, HB 158 will instead insert “intellectual disability” into the code.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.