Why register a vital event?
- It is required by law. Oregon Revised Statutes
Chapter 432 requires the registration of vital events in Oregon.
ORS 432.206 Compulsory registration of births
ORS 432.307 Compulsory filing of death certificates
ORS 432.333 Reports on fetal deaths
ORS 432.405 Filing of marriage record
ORS 432.408 Record of dissolution of marriage judgment
- Registration is required by law because accurate and complete legal records are essential in determining legal status and rights, including inheritance, citizenship, and paternity.
- Anyone contacting our office with information or responding to our request for information in good faith is protected from liability under ORS 432.075. ORS 432.075 Duty to furnish information to state registrar; immunity.
(1) Any person having knowledge of the facts shall furnish all information the person may possess regarding any birth, death, fetal death, induced termination of pregnancy, marriage, dissolution of marriage or suicide attempt by a person under 18 years of age, upon demand of the State Registrar of the Center for Health Statistics.
(2) Any person or institution that in good faith provides information required by this chapter or by rules adopted pursuant thereto shall not be subject to any action for civil damages. [1983 c.709 §23; 1997 c.783 §6]
What do we do with the information?
At the individual level, vital records are used to legally establish identity (births) and relationships (birth, marriage, divorce, and death) for personal or property interests.
Records registered with the Center for Health Statistics are confidential by law. For deaths, marriages and divorces, the records are confidential for 50 years after the event occurred. For births, the records are confidential for 100 years after the event occurred. By far our most frequent customers are the individual who is the subject of the record or their parents.
Confidential means the records are released only to those people who have demonstrated a legal right to the information under ORS 432.121. Each request for vital records is screened for eligibility before the certified copy is produced. If the individual doesn’t have a right to the information under the law, their request is refused.
When a certified copy is created of a marriage or divorce record, the statistical sections are also not released. The statistical section of the birth certificate that contains demographic (education, race, ethnicity, etc.) and medical information is not released with the individual record. The protection of this information is so strong that it is not released even if a court issues a subpoena. Very rarely, the information may be released for public health research; this only occurs after a rigorous review of the purpose and procedures of the research and, if approved, the agreement that the information will be used for the approved purpose only.
Death records are also confidential. However, because of the greater need in establishing and closing legal interests in property, including real property, bank accounts, and insurance policies, a greater variety of people may be eligible to obtain the death record. One of the ways CHS works to keep the personal information as confidential as possible is the availability and promotion of the ‘short form’. This form of the death certificate does not include the cause of death information and consequentially has more room available for recording stamps, etc. when used to transfer property.
Vital records also play a very important public health role. Birth and death records are primary data sources for health information on Oregonians, including:
- Birth weight of newborns – low or high birth weight is an indicator of current and future health needs for Oregon’s children.
- Access to prenatal care – access varies by geographic region and demographic group.
- Leading causes of death – alert practitioners and researchers to common health needs in Oregon.
CHS is responsible for compiling and analyzing these data, which are used throughout the state and nation for program planning and policy development, as well as being primary data sources used for measuring many Oregon Benchmarks, Department of Human Services Outcomes and Performance Measures, and Healthy People 2010 Objectives. One product of this analysis is the Annual Report.
Volume One covers births, induced terminations of pregnancy and teen pregnancy.
Volume Two covers mortality, infant mortality, fetal demise, and adolescent suicide attempts.