Birth & Death Records ... They'll Be Almost Impossible Now to Come By

Breaking News

Sometimes it’s the small abuses scurrying below radar that reveal how profoundly the Bush administration has changed America in the name of national security. Buried within the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 is a regulation that bars most public access to birth and death certificates for 70 to 100 years. In much of the country, these records have long been invaluable tools for activists, lawyers, and reporters to uncover patterns of illness and pollution that officials miss or ignore.

In These Times has obtained a draft of the proposed regulations now causing widespread concern among state officials. It reveals plans to create a vast database of vital records to be centralized in Washington, and details measures that states must implement–and pay millions for—before next year’s scheduled implementation.

The draft lays out how some 60,000 already strapped town and county offices must keep the birth and death records under lock and key and report all document requests to Washington. Individuals who show up in person will still be able to obtain their own birth certificates, and in some cases, the birth and death records of an immediate relative; and “legitimate” research institutions may be able to access files. But reporters and activists won’t be allowed to fish through records; many family members looking for genetic clues will be out of luck; and people wanting to trace adoptions will dead-end. If you are homeless and need your own birth certificate, forget it: no address, no service.

comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:

Vernon Clayson - 2/11/2006

Sounds reasonable to me, my records should be my business, other people's records should be their business. This is about fear of government scrutiny of our records but for the vast majority of us the government would gain damned little from looking at our records and it would be a waste of their time. It would not be a waste of time for them to look at church and bank records to see who is funding these terrorist bastards. With mine they would find a small balance and no donations to Islamic or any other stupid church groups, isn't that what this is about? For the dupe who isn't able to find 1957 hospital records, tough, the FBI, NSA, etal., could not possibly care less, this is about homeland security, not late day concern about 50 years old medical records.

Walter McElligott - 2/11/2006

What's new. I've been trying unsuccessfully for years to get my med recs. from 1957 hospital stay in chicago that i beleve dr. took because of charge out card where file should have been.