Section 22-9A-21

Disclosure of information from vital records.

(a) To protect the integrity of vital records, to insure their proper use, and to insure the efficient and proper administration of the system of vital statistics, it shall be unlawful for any person to permit inspection of, or to disclose information contained in vital records, or to copy or issue a copy of all or part of any record, except as authorized by this chapter and by rules of the board or by order of a court of competent jurisdiction.

(b) The State Registrar or other custodians of vital records shall not permit inspection of, or disclose information contained in vital records, or copy or issue a copy of all or part of any records unless he or she is satisfied that the applicant is authorized to obtain a copy of the record.

(1) The registrant, a member of his or her immediate family, his or her guardian, and their respective legal representatives, when acting on their behalf and for their benefit, may, in any event, obtain copies.

(2) The term "legal representative" shall include an attorney at law, attorney in fact, physician, funeral director, or other designated agent acting on behalf and for the benefit of the registrant or his or her family. The State Registrar may require written authorization that the legal representative is acting on behalf and for the benefit of the principal.

(3) Information from or copies of records shall not be provided to the natural parents of adopted children, when neither has custody, or commercial firms or agencies requesting listings of names and addresses or copies of certificates.

(4) Others may obtain information from or copies of a vital record, if they demonstrate that the information or copy is needed for the determination or protection of his or her personal or property right. The board may adopt rules to define further those who may obtain information from or copies of vital records filed under this chapter.

(c) The State Registrar may permit the use of data from vital records for statistical or legitimate research purposes, subject to conditions he or she may impose. No data shall be furnished from records for legitimate research purposes until the State Registrar has received in writing an agreement signed by a responsible agent of the research organization agreeing to conform to the conditions. Legitimate research for the purposes of this section shall mean a systematic statistical study, conforming to or in accordance with generally accepted scientific standards or principles, designed to develop or contribute to scientific knowledge, and that does not identify the persons in the study. Prior to release of data identifying any specific institution, the institution shall be notified in writing by the State Registrar that the data will be released.

(d) The State Registrar may disclose data from vital records to federal, state, county, or municipal agencies of government that request the data in the conduct of their official duties, upon proper request. Conditions for disclosure may be imposed by the State Registrar and the State Registrar may require a responsible agent of the governmental agency to sign a written agreement conforming to those conditions.

(e) Marriage and divorce certificates in the custody of the State Registrar shall be considered nonrestricted public records and any person may obtain copies of the records for any purpose upon submission of an application containing sufficient information to locate the record and payment of the required fee.

(f) When 125 years have elapsed after the date of birth or 25 years have elapsed after the date of death, the records of these events in the custody of the State Registrar shall become nonrestricted public records and any person may obtain copies of the records upon submission of an application containing sufficient information to locate the record and payment of the required fee. The records may be made available for viewing in photographic, digital, electronic, or other suitable format as provided for by rules of the board.

(g) The board is authorized to provide for a system for death reviews using vital records and information from vital records and other medical records deemed necessary for these reviews. All information relating to individuals and physicians obtained for these reviews and all results of these reviews relating to individuals and physicians shall be deemed confidential, shall not be admissible in court for any purpose, and shall not be subject to discovery in any civil action. Nothing in this section shall limit the admissibility or discoverability of patient medical records, regularly and ordinarily kept in the course of treatment of a patient, that otherwise would be admissible or discoverable.

(Acts 1992, No. 92-607, p. 1255, §21.)