Thursday, May 27, 2010

U.S. Senate committee passes Rosa's law to strike MR from federal language

From The AP:

A U.S. Senate committee yesterday approved a measure to remove the words "mental retardation" and "mentally retarded" from federal labor, health and education laws to help remove what supporters describe as a hurtful label.

The bill, approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in Washington, D.C., would replace the terms "mental retardation" and "mentally retarded" with "intellectual disability" and "individual with an intellectual disability."

The measure is known as Rosa's Law. It is named for Rosa Marcellino (pictured), a 9-year-old Maryland girl from Edgewater who has been diagnosed with Down syndrome. Rosa worked with Maryland state legislators to pass similar legislation in the state last year.

Nina Marcellino, Rosa's mother, said she was thrilled to see the measure advance in Washington. She said the legislation will move the nation closer to shedding a stigmatizing label attached to people with intellectual disabilities.

"This has always been about so much more than just changing words or political correctness," she said in a statement. "It's about marking a new era where the dignity of people with intellectual disabilities is respected and their value appreciated."

The measure was introduced by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., who met Rosa's mother at a meeting on special education. Mikulski said that if Rosa's law passed in Maryland, she would introduce it in the Senate.

The bill does not affect services, rights or educational opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities.

It makes language used in federal law consistent with language used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the White House through the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.

A preliminary analysis from the Congressional Budget Office found no cost associated with the change.

Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Michael Enzi, R-Wyoming, are co-sponsoring the legislation.

The measure will now be considered by the full Senate.