The medical community is strongly protesting against a bill that obligates doctors and other medical workers to send children’s birth certificates directly to administrative agencies. The protesters are concerned that if there are errors in the birth certificates, doctors will take responsibility for them.
Rep. Ham Jin-kyu함진규 of the opposition Liberty Korea Party자유한국당 proposed the partially revised bill to the “Law on registering family relations and other matters” on June 27
The revision calls for doctors, midwives and other people involved in childbirth to draw up birth certificates and send them to the chiefs of administrative agencies that have jurisdictions over the birthplaces within 30 days of delivery.
The current law stipulates that in the cases of children born from married couples, fathers or mothers should report their birth to the administrations of birthplace within a month, by attaching birth certificates written by doctors, midwives or other people involved in their delivery.
As the birth registration is left to only children’s parents, however, there have been many omissions and false reporting, resulting in the illegal trafficking of children or the children’s exposure to abuses, according to Rep. Ham.
“I intend to improve the birth registration system to prevent the abuse of children’s human rights by obligating medical institutions where children are born to send birth certificates,” Ham said.
However, the medical community is strongly opposed to it, criticizing it as an “excessive legislation that only increases doctors’ obligations.”
“I opposed to the similar law proposed before, but it was proposed again,” said Kim Dong-seok김동석, chairman of Korea Association of Obstetricians & Gynecologists 대한산부인과의사회, in a telephone interview with the Korea Biomedical Review Wednesday. “Birth-related matters belong to personal information, with which doctors can’t deal indiscreetly. Some people might not want doctors to send related documents, which may violate the privacy protection law.”
“Even officials working at administrative agencies create problems by erroneously putting in residential registration data. If medical institutions draw up the document, more problems can occur,” Kim said. “Then doctors who made mistakes have to take responsibility, which imposes more burden on them.”
“If administrative job increases at hospitals, we have to hire more people or raise wages for the existing ones,” he said. “However, the government coerces additional duty without financial support, aggravating the environment for childbirth.”
“It would be better if workers at community service centers make rounds of maternity hospitals once a month, confirming or collecting documents,” Kim said. “We will release a statement opposing the legislation and submit it to the National Assembly. We will do everything not to let the Assembly pass this into law.”
A doctor at the gynecology department also expressed concerns about taking legal responsibility for wrong documentation.
“If there is a legal problem after doctors fill out the document based on mother’s remarks, they have to take all responsibilities for legal problems, including one related to inheritance,” he said. “We can’t check the identifications of parents one by one. It doesn’t make sense at all.”
“Laws like these that ignore the reality make doctors feel harder. I want lawmakers to ask doctors before they make a law, for just once,” the doctor said. “These politicians will gain nothing by keeping up pressure on physicians.”
Korean Medical Association (KMA)대한의사협회 also made clear its opposition to the law.
“The revision not only imposes excessive duties on doctors but also provides benefits to the public at all,” said Kim Joo-hyun김주현, a spokesman for the association. “It is like forcing doctors to prove people’s failure to make proper birth registration, regarding people as potential criminals. We are positively against to the legal revision.”
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