Q&A: Birth announcements

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From the  Daily Reporter (Greenfield):

Q: Hancock Regional Hospital has notified the Daily Reporter it no longer will provide a list of births, as it has done almost daily for many years.

Now, the hospital will give new parents the option of filling out a form and sending it in. This sounds like a resource issue at the hospital, which we’ll probably have to live with, but I wanted to double check to be sure nothing requires health providers to compile this information for the public. Some form of data has to be reported to the health department, right? 

A: There’s nothing that requires hospitals to make birth information available.

Your only leverage is the free publicity the hospital gets if you connect birth listings with the hospital, which is something you could discuss with your publisher or ad director to see if there’s a value there for both hospital and newspaper.

As to legal records and access, county health departments must make birth certificates a “permanent record.” See IC 16-37-2-9.

Birth records are available to the public, except in the case of adoptions, and include the name, sex, date of birth, place of birth, name of the parents, birthplace of parents, and date of filing of the certificate of birth.

I don’t see a deadline on when the permanent record must be created, so if you switch to the health department for the records, you may have a delay between date of birth and when the permanent record is created and made available for inspection and copying.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.

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