South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

Bill to remove term ‘mentally retarded' from law now official


December 27, 2011

State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, applauded Gov. Tom Corbett last week as he held a ceremonial bill signing of a measure that would redefine the term "mental retardation" as "intellectual disability" in a state law.

The law (Act 105) updates and renames the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Act of 1966 the Mental Health and Intellectual Disability Act.

"As society gains a better and more compassionate understanding of various conditions, the terminology changes to reflect that. I believe it was well past time that we made it the official policy of the Commonwealth to use the term intellectual disability, rather than the more pejorative term, mental retardation," Mr. Wheatley said. "This new law moves us in that direction. However, we still need to make this change in three other key state laws, and I am working to accomplish that."

Rep. Wheatley has authored a bill that make the change in titles 1 (General Provisions), 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 23 (Domestic Relations). His bill (H.B. 789) is currently before the House Judiciary Committee.

Similar legislation has become law at the federal level.


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