DES MOINES (AP) — The Iowa House unanimously approved a bill that would remove the phrase "mental retardation" from most state laws and sent the measure to Gov. Terry Branstad.
The House's 92-0 vote Tuesday followed an earlier 50-0 Senate vote in favor of the bill. Branstad has indicated he supports the change.
The move is part of a national effort to encourage governments and individuals to stop using the term, which activists said can be hurtful to people with disabilities.
In Iowa, the phrase "intellectual disability" will be used instead.
"I don't think in my time here that I have worked on legislation where changing two words in the Iowa Code has meant so much to so many people," said Rep. Lisa Heddens, D-Ames. Heddens' 17-year-old son, Paul, has Down syndrome.
The vote came on a day when Special Olympics participants came to the Statehouse to lobby for the measure. Some said people don't give it much thought when they use the term "retarded," but the word can hurt.
"When people use that word to each other, they don't mean to be mean," said Rob Fisher, a 33-year-old who has cerebral palsy and a mild intellectual disability. "They just are not thinking."
Although the bill sent to Branstad removes "mental retardation" in most state statutes, it would remain in a few spots where the term is used for a specific medical diagnosis. That could change as those definitions are more widely changed.
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