R-word: Rosa's Law arrives to California

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Oct 17, 2023, 11:30:59 AM10/17/23
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California Governor signed AB-248, Individuals with disabilities: The Dignity for All Actaiming to eliminate derogatory language from state legal codes.


Existing law includes the terms “mentally retarded persons,” “mentally retarded children,” “retardation,” and “handicap.” This bill, The Dignity for All Act, would make nonsubstantive changes to those provisions to eliminate this obsolete terminology. The bill would repeal obsolete provisions of law.

The term "mental retardation," established in 1866, was historically used by medical professionals to describe intellectual delays. Despite its disuse in official contexts, this term persisted in U.S. laws and documents until Rosa's Law (S. 2781) was enacted on October 5, 2010, by President Barack Obama.

Rosa's Law replaced "mental retardation" with "mental disability" and "mentally retarded individual" with "an individual with an intellectual disability," reflecting a crucial shift in federal legislation to remove derogatory language.
rosas law.png
Still, Patients diagnosed with an intellectual disability can often have a hard time getting their doctors to believe them. When Kaiser Permanente put "Mental Retardation" into my medical record years after Rosa's Law, I knew I would one day stand to correct that. Today, as I await the March primaries, I am pleased that everybody seems to like the idea that the time has arrived to bring "Neurodiversity into Legislation." 

Appreciation is extended to Assembly Member Devon Mathis for recognizing the need for language updates and pursuing the passage of The Dignity for All Act in California.


Henny Kupferstein, Ph.D.
Candidate, California State Assembly
San Diego coastal District # 77


Stanley Krippner

Oct 26, 2023, 1:45:46 PM10/26/23
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Brava! This is well written.

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