To: Senate Human Services Committee
From: Christopher Dodson, Executive Director
Subject: House Bill 1139 - Requirements for Birth Records
Date: March 7, 2023
The North Dakota Catholic Conference supports House Bill 1139. The bill will codify into law that a birth record must include the child's sex and that the report of sex is based on the biological presentation of sex at birth.
North Dakota Century Code does not require birth records/certificates to record the child's sex. The administrative rules concerning birth registration are set out in Article 33-04 of the Administrative Code. They also do not require designating recording the child’s sex. Section 33-04-12-02 of the Administrative Code sets forth the requirements and process for obtaining an amended birth record following a sex conversion operation. (A copy of the rule is attached to this testimony.) Still, there is nothing in the law requiring the recording of sex in the first place.
The Department of Health and Human Services does, however, use an electronic reporting system according to the 2003 Birth Certificate Standard of the National Center of Health Statistics. That system requires reporting biological sex according to the three options presented in SB 1139 — male, female, not yet determined. Accordingly, the Department previously testified that HB 1139 would merely codify existing practice.
Nor would it change the existing practice regarding children with disorders of sexual development (DSD). If the sex cannot be determined at birth due to one of these disorders, the Department’s current reporting system requires an entry of “not yet determined.” HB 1139 adds no requirements that are not already required by the Department through its reporting system.
Birth records are not personal documents. They are official state documents legally recording a particular event. This information is not only important for legal purposes, but it also provides essential public health data. At a minimum, the records should include medically accurate sex designations.
Discussions about sex and gender designations on birth certificates and when they can be changed have arisen around the country and in this assembly. This is not one of those bills. This bill merely establishes the basic requirement that birth certificates include the child’s biological sex when it can be determined.
Please give a Do Pass recommendation to House Bill 1139.
What We Do
The North Dakota Catholic Conference acts on behalf of the Roman Catholic bishops of North Dakota to respond to public policy issues of concern to the Catholic Church and to educate Catholics and the general public about Catholic social doctrine.