by Danny S. Yoder on Jun 14, 2018 Birth Certificate
Birth registration has long been useful to governments, allowing them to tax, conscript, and count the population. That effort was traditionally the purview of churches, where the practice dates to the 16th century. It wasn't until 1837, in England and Wales, that birth registration began to become standardized and subject to governmental control.* Several decades later, it was mandatory to register all births in the two countries.
A recent controversy over birth certificates in Arkansas demonstrates that these slips of paper are imbued with political and social meaning. In 2015, a married couple, Marisa and Terrah Pavan, had their first child, who was conceived through sperm donation. The Arkansas Department of Health, or ADH, listed only Terrah, who gave birth to their daughter, on the baby's birth certificate. This was contrary to state law, under which the spouse of the birth mother also is automatically listed.