September 27th, 2010
02:23 PM ET

Congress eliminates the R-word

The word has rankled Sarah Palin. Using it landed Rahm Emanuel, the president’s chief of staff, in hot water. And actress Jennifer Aniston got slammed by advocates for saying it in slang.

And now, it’s a step closer to elimination from the federal government language.

The House of Representatives approved a bill that eliminates the use of the words “retarded” and “retardation” in health, education and labor laws.

The bill changes the terms from “mental retardation” to “intellectual disability” and “mentally retarded individual” to “individual with an intellectual disability.” This shift would make it more consistent with the language already used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United Nations, and the White House.

Rosa’s Law passed in the Senate in August, and now heads to President Barack Obama’s desk. The bill was proposed by Senator Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat from Maryland.

Rosa Marcellino is a girl from Edgewater, Maryland, who has Down syndrome. She had been labeled retarded by her school - a term that her mother does not permit her children to use, according to a news release from Mikulski’s office.

Read the bill here.

“What you call people is how you treat them,” her older brother, Nick Marcellino had said. “What you call my sister is how you will treat her. If you believe she’s ‘retarded,’ it invites taunting, stigma. It invites bullying and it also invites the slammed doors of being treated with respect and dignity.”

Advocates consider the term a stinging label that is outdated and stigmatizing.

“We understand that language plays a crucial role in how people with intellectual disabilities are perceived and treated in society,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc in a statement. “Changing how we talk about people with disabilities is a critical step in promoting and protecting their basic civil and human rights.”

The Arc, which promotes and protects rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, has been advocating the use of “intellectual disability."

“We strongly believe the only 'r-word' that should be used when referring to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is ‘Respect,’” according to the website.

The Arc of the United States originated as the National Association for Retarded Children and adopted its current name in 1992, dropping the term as “pejorative, derogatory and demeaning in usage.”

The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, a professional association working with intellectual and developmental disabilities, also dropped the word “mental retardation” from its names and titles of two flagship journals.

“The language we use when talking about disabilities in general, and intellectual disabilities in particular, has changed over time,” said Margaret A. Nygren, executive director and CEO of AAIDD in a statement. “These changes reflect a cultural shift in understanding that people with developmental and intellectual disabilities are entitled to the same dignity and human rights as every other member of society. The passage of the Rosa’s Law legislation to use the term “intellectual disabilities” within federal education, health, and labor laws is likely to have a far reaching impact on the language used in our society.”

But not everyone is embracing the shift. Critics say that changing the word is an act of political correctness, rather than any substantive change.

Christopher M. Fairman is a professor at the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University and author of a book subtitled "Word Taboo and Protecting Our First Amendment Liberties” wrote in a Washington Post column earlier this year: “If interest groups want to pour resources into cleaning up unintentional insults, more power to them; we surely would benefit from greater kindness to one another. But we must not let "retard" go without a requiem. If the goal is to protect intellectually disabled individuals from put-downs and prejudice, it won't succeed. New words of insult will replace old ones.”

soundoff (1,022 Responses)
  1. DvncZisse

    cialis cheapest prices cialis online purchase original cialis

    December 10, 2020 at 18:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. FbsbEncox

    cialis paypal payment canada buy cialis uk cialis online nz

    December 11, 2020 at 05:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. detectives privados tres cantos

    detectives privados santa pola


    December 12, 2020 at 00:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. JgsvCrulk

    generic viagra supplier india order viagra without a rx viagra liverpool

    December 13, 2020 at 09:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. gkqVQyRevrh


    December 13, 2020 at 12:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. FsfgEncox

    viagra symbol buy viagra us on line viagra questionarre

    December 13, 2020 at 20:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. KhedMile

    youtube viagra 50mg generic viagra buying viagra online using pay pal

    December 14, 2020 at 00:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. UmChqSscDgIXN


    December 14, 2020 at 09:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. FhsnZisse

    buy viagra on discover card viagra australia delivery paypal cheap viagra reviews

    December 14, 2020 at 23:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. DvnjZisse

    viagra 50mg canada viagra trial voucher paypal to buy viagra

    December 15, 2020 at 17:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Meg Mourino

    you can also save a lot of money when you do some home rentals, just find a cheap one*


    December 20, 2020 at 15:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. MiRecygutt

    positive and negative numbers calculator community colleges near zephyrhills florida , friends vs the office. community bible church online, community first credit union routing number wisconsin community acquired pneumonia assessment?
    community action agency darlington sc https://bitly.com/2JhUnxW+# , community america loan environments of the world? planning permit process victoria followers koven lyrics, community acquired pneumonia hospital acquired pneumonia community first credit union tacoma.
    community aid drop off, social learning community action partnership nebraska culture vulture meaning.

    December 23, 2020 at 16:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. earn passive income in 2021

    Imagine getting hundreds of people flooding your inbox on autopilot, This is made thanks to traffic conveyed on autopilot over various “viral tiers”. 100 commissions of up to 900+ dollars DAILY. More details: https://bit.ly/2YfQFcC


    December 26, 2020 at 12:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. EAgish

    positive feedback group: community yard sale, community advocates on fond du lac phone number. Related data: community first credit union novato, advocates community counseling, positive feedback negative feedback, culture wars definition, community bridges inc careers community america lobby hours. social loafing community cast hickey Acheter Speman 60 caps en pharmacie#, socialism community america promo code Tetracycline 500 mg# social vocational services. community bible church riverside positive feedback loop used in a sentence, community cast ranked, community cast city college, positive feedback differs from negative feedback in that.
    community definition root , individual level risk factors positive correlation of 1 community aid near carlisle pa.

    December 27, 2020 at 18:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. VvwRshcYtDPrU


    December 28, 2020 at 16:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. KjLHEUyRCmMonzI


    December 29, 2020 at 14:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Javier Driskill

    Absolutely pent content material, thanks for entropy.


    December 30, 2020 at 21:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Collin Stoecker

    I want gathering utile information , this post has got me even more info! .


    December 31, 2020 at 06:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. WebSites Center

    How is it that just anyone can create a blog and get as popular as this? Its not like youve said anything incredibly impressive more like youve painted a pretty picture about an issue that you know nothing about! I dont want to sound mean, right here. But do you actually think that you can get away with adding some quite pictures and not genuinely say anything?


    December 31, 2020 at 15:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Google Yahoo Domains

    Took me time to understand all of the comments, but I seriously enjoyed the write-up. It proved being really helpful to me and Im positive to all of the commenters right here! Its constantly nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained! I am certain you had enjoyable writing this write-up.


    January 1, 2021 at 20:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Cinda Fleak

    very nice publish, i actually love this web site, carry on it


    January 3, 2021 at 20:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. zortilo nrel

    Hey very nice site!! Man .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your site and take the feeds also…I am happy to find numerous useful info here in the post, we need work out more techniques in this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .


    January 3, 2021 at 23:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Webmaster Center

    You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and extremely broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!


    January 5, 2021 at 20:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. KhthMile

    best drugstore bronzer north drug store pharmacy cheap

    January 8, 2021 at 16:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. AqwsEncox

    erectile dysfunction medications erectile dysfunction pills best drugstore setting spray

    January 9, 2021 at 03:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. 실제 돈 슬롯

    Best view i have ever seen !


    January 10, 2021 at 12:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Shanice Mollema

    I'm still learning from you, while I'm making my way to the top as well. I definitely liked reading all that is written on your blog.Keep the aarticles coming. I liked it!


    January 11, 2021 at 02:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Lanell Firpi

    I have been examinating out a few of your posts and it’s pretty nice stuff. I will surely bookmark your site


    January 11, 2021 at 21:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. JtmfEncox

    medical pharmacy the pharmacy us online pharmacy

    January 12, 2021 at 13:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. JlloCrulk

    canadian online pharmacy pharmacy rx approved canadian online pharmacies

    January 12, 2021 at 15:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. NllpZisse

    canadian pharcharmy http://pharmacy-onlineasxs.com/ canadian pharmacy

    January 13, 2021 at 05:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. LokuEncox

    mail order pharmacy texas state board of pharmacy mens ed pills

    January 13, 2021 at 05:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. KlioMile

    buy viagra sildenafil viagra vs cialis craigslist and viagra byy viagra online cost of viagra without insurance how i can buy viagra without prescription in chicago best over the counter viagra shelf life of viagra viagra michigan cheap brand viagra pharmacy viagra dubai online generic viagra how much is viagra acheter viagra brazil viagra

    January 13, 2021 at 11:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Ellen Ptomey

    I have been examinating out some of your stories and i can claim pretty good stuff. I will definitely bookmark your blog.


    January 15, 2021 at 19:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Raymond Haener


    January 16, 2021 at 01:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. JvcxCrulk

    how can i get viagra in sydney australia viagra distributors paypal buy viagra pfizer viagra 100g cialis viagra mail order uk discrete billing viagra viagra in australia where can i buy viagra online viagra india buy discrete viagra online paypal australia generic viagra sildenfil citrate australia viagra in australia buy viagra in melbourne viagra sample buy generic viagra online overnight viagra /dapoxetine overnight shipping

    January 16, 2021 at 14:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Jaime Torn

    Local Law 196 is a NYC DOB law that requires workers and supervisors at most NYC construction sites to obtain a SST card by completing specific courses through a NYC DOB approved training provider. Able Safety offers multiple packages to complete this training at great low prices. All our SST classes can be completed entirely online from any device (phone, tablet, pc/mac). The NYC DOB’s SST compliance deadline was originally set for September 1st 2020. The deadline has since been extended to March 1st 2021. By this date you will need the following to be allowed to work on most construction sites in NYC.


    January 17, 2021 at 03:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. NlbxZisse

    cheap viagra in united states 365pills viagra buy female viagra australia viagra on line purchase viagra and grapefruit best price for viagra viagra uk where to buy viagra in canada online generic viagra vid shop viagra viagra on line pay pall australia viagra alternatives reviews viagra from melbourne viagra vs cialis which is better sun viking viagra

    January 17, 2021 at 07:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. FgnhZisse

    buy viagra online australia viagra. viagra online order mastercard accepted viagra without a perscrition is viagra from canada safe? viagra professional review online pharmacy viagra paypal viagra from uk generic viagra visa debit viagra overnight no prescription generic viagra testimonials viagra manufacturer viagra new zealand buy online viagra generic online free trail viagra

    January 17, 2021 at 15:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. KbctMile

    generic cialis no prescription 36 hour cialis can i buy cialis in malaysia http://mycialedst.com/ – cialis cost nz ’

    January 18, 2021 at 11:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. AqbvEncox

    chewing viagra overnight generic viagras viagra suppliers online http://acialaarx.com/ – free viagra samples online ’

    January 18, 2021 at 22:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Clorinda Kallevig

    I¡¦ve recently started a web site, the info you offer on this site has helped me greatly. Thanks for all of your time & work.


    January 21, 2021 at 03:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Santo Cartin


    January 21, 2021 at 08:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. JvcbxCrulk

    cialis online cialis 10mg canada buy cialis http://phrcialiled.com/ – generic cialis? ’

    January 21, 2021 at 13:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. JbdcEncox

    paypal viagra viagra without a rx cost of viagra 100mg http://llviabest.com/ – sellers of viagra ’

    January 22, 2021 at 06:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. NlbxZisse

    buy cialis black cialis cialis dapoxetine australia http://cialijomen.com/ – cialis buy ’

    January 22, 2021 at 07:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. FbdhZisse

    buy cialis no prescription australia generic cialis tadalafil 20mg online cialis australia http://21cialismen.com/ – generis cialis online overnight delivery ’

    January 22, 2021 at 15:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. LcxEncox

    buy gerneric viagra viagra with dapoxetine 365 pills how much is viagra in australia http://genqpviag.com/ – viagra with dapoxetine us ’

    January 22, 2021 at 21:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Jerald Minzenberger

    Best Marketing Services – Cheapest on Market. SMM Supreme is the Top 5 Best Social Media Website in the World. Best Quality-Price Ratio on the market with 714,928 orders until now. – Facebook Fan Page Likes for $4.50/1000 – Instagram Followers for $0.78/1000 – Youtube Views: $1.62/1000 – Twitter followers: $2.10/1000 – Paypal Deposit – Bitcoin Deposit – Fast order processing – 1 Hour Delivery (Click on the link in the profile for more details)


    January 22, 2021 at 21:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. 농구 베팅

    best i have ever seen !


    January 23, 2021 at 06:10 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Leave a Reply to Opthamologist Near Me


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.