New law eliminates “R” word from Indiana code

Gov. Mike Pence holds a ceremonial bill signing Friday, July 24, 2015. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The governor conducted a ceremonial bill signing Friday for a law that makes the Indiana code more politically correct.

This is all about the “R” word.

It’s a term that was once considered appropriate, but is no longer: retardation.

“No one wants to be called retarded,” said Melody Cooper of Self Advocates of Indiana. “Nobody.”

Cooper says it happened to her in high school and earlier this year she testified in favor of the new law.

As a result, she got to introduce Mike Pence at the bill signing.

“I wanna be able to celebrate with all of you,” said the governor, “that your voices have been heard.”

The new law means that retardation will be replaced in the Indiana code by two words: “intellectual disabilities.”

And the bill signing is the end of a process that included unanimous support in the General Assembly.

“Because people with disabilities,” said Kim Dodson of the Arc of Indiana, “really want the respect that every citizen in the state of Indiana has.”

“And they wanted to change it to something that made them feel more positive about their disabilities,” said Betty Williams of Self Advocates, “and made them feel more like they had capabilities.”

That is, something that isn’t considered an insult.

Advocates say that the state of Indiana has been good about passing bills to protect the rights of the intellectually disabled and to give them educational and economic opportunities.

State law now reflects that progressive approach. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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