NZ Birth Certificates No Longer Based on Biology

Media Release 3 May 2018
Family First NZ says the Department of Internal Affairs, in a disturbing move, has removed the need for fathers being recorded on birth certificates, and is thereby ignoring biological reality. It will render birth certificates as manipulated and misleading.

“Removing the biological father – or the biological mother – from a document that records biological history is wrong. Biology tells a story – but the state seems dead-set to distort that story, and we should be concerned at that direction being taken,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“Children have a deep longing and a right to know who they belong to, where they come from, and who they look like. The rights of the child should remain paramount, not the adults and their relationship. Many children conceived via ART and surrogacy are prevented from knowing intimate aspects of their heritage and biology.”

“This policy will prevent the child from knowing his or her own heritage, including vital information such as a family’s medical history. A number of donor-conceived children in the US are campaigning for tighter controls on the law governing assisted reproduction. For example, how does the child deal with the loss and possible rejection from a biological mother who is labelled as the ‘gestational carrier’? What is it like to find out that your biological father donated his sperm and is known only by a number?”

In 2010, the Commission on Parenthood’s Future released a ground-breaking report My Daddy’s Name is Donor: A New Study of Young Adults Conceived Through Sperm Donation. The study revealed that, on average, young adults conceived through sperm donation are hurting more, are more confused, and feel more isolated from their families. They fare worse than their peers raised by biological parents on important outcomes such as depression, delinquency, and substance abuse.
Moreover, the study found that:

  • Two-thirds agree, “My sperm donor is half of who I am;”
  • More than half say that when they see someone who resembles them they wonder if they are related;
  • Two-thirds affirm the right of donor offspring to know the truth about their origins;

“This is not the first attack on the legitimacy of birth certificates. Politicians are currently considering a proposal to recommend that birth certificates be based on the choice of the person. By choosing your own gender in your birth certificate, the certificates will once again become an object of unscientific gender ideology and effectively tell medical professionals that they got it wrong at time of birth.”

“This will all simply bring about confusion and ambiguity. A birth certificate is a historical record based on biological fact.”

(This is also not the first attempt to redefine language around family. A select committee  attempted to remove husband and wife from marriage certificates during the same-sex marriage debate but were forced to backtrack.) 

The role of the Birth Certificate is spelt out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.[1] Article 7 of UNCROC states: “The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.”  Article 8 says: “States Parties undertake to respect the right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and family relations as recognized by law without unlawful interference.”  

The Department of Internal Affairs website says – “A New Zealand Birth Certificate is an official document containing registered information about a person’s birth as at the date of issue. A birth certificate can only be used as evidence that an identity exists. The birth certificate should not be used as the sole form of evidence for asserting an individual’s identity, as it does not provide any link to the person presenting it.”[2] (our emphasis added)