Legislation Addressing Flaw in Vital Records Act Passes Both Chambers

Springfield, IL… Senate Bill 1688, picked up in the House by Representative Margo McDermed (R- Mokena) passed the House yesterday with a vote of 85-14-1. The bill amends the Illinois Vital Records Act to authorize certification or a certified copy of a birth certificate to be issued upon the specific written request of a State’s Attorney for the purpose of a criminal prosecution. 

In a rare and unfortunate situation, a court case involving a sexual assault of a minor, the State’s Attorney didn’t have necessary information and the defense wouldn’t stipulate. The prosecutor was trying to prove the age of the victim in court without having to make the victim go on the witness stand. The county clerk would not provide the birth certificate, which would have demonstrated the age of the victim.

“State’s Attorneys can request a court order to obtain a birth certificate,” Rep McDermed said. “However, while on trial that can take up valuable time. This bill would provide a swifter and more convenient route in that process.” 

Under current law, a birth certificate can be released to the person named on the record only if they are 18 years of age or over. However, a number of other people can request a certified copy from the county clerk. SB1688 adds a State’s Attorney to that list of people. 

“We aren’t endeavoring to open up the flood gates in terms of privacy,” Rep McDermed continued. “State’s Attorneys will not have access to these personal records carte blanche, but only as it pertains to a criminal court case.”