Notification and Registration of Births - Certificate of Baptism - Vaccination, etc.
The birth of children in the Metropolis, or in localities where the Notification of Births Act has been adopted, must be notified, within thirty-six hours after the birth, to the Medical Officer of Health by the father of the child, if he is actually residing in the house, or by the doctor, or the midwife, or any person in attendance upon the mother within six hours after the birth. The provision applies to still-born children, and is in addition to, and not instead of, the existing duty of registering births. Any person failing to give notice renders himself liable to a penalty of twenty shillings, unless he satisfies the magistrate that he had reasonable grounds for believing that the notice had been given by some other person. This looks as if the father would escape the penalty by laying the blame on the nurse or the doctor, while either of the latter might excuse themselves at the expense of the other. It is really the duty of the midwife and the doctor to provide themselves with stamped and addressed postcards for notification purposes containing the form of notice, which the local authority will supply to them, without charge, upon their application.
Within six weeks after the birth of the child information must be given to the registrar of births, deaths, and marriages. The duty of registering the child falls primarily on the father and the mother, but, failing them, it becomes the duty of the occupier of the house in which the child was born, or of the person in charge of the child, to give full particulars and sign the register. For failing to give information of the birth the parent renders himself liable to a penalty of forty shillings, and for registering or causing to be registered the birth of a child after three months the penalty is 10.
After the expiration of forty-two days the registrar may, in writing, require the attendance of any person who has neglected to register the birth of a child under a penalty of forty shillings.
Information respecting the finding of any new-born child must be given to the registrar within seven days after the discovery of the child so abandoned or exposed, by the person who finds it, or in whose charge it has been placed.
When a child is registered without being named, or is baptised in a different name from that entered in the register, or without being baptised has a different name given to it, the new name may be entered in the register upon production, to the registrar, of a certificate of baptism signed by the officiating clergyman, or a certificate, if not baptised, signed by the parents or guardian of the child; such certificate should be delivered to the registrar within twelve months after the original entry has been made. There is no duty on the father of an illegitimate child to register the birth, but he may, if he chooses, register himself as the father.
It is the duty of the parent or other person having the custody of every child born in England to have it vaccinated within six months after its birth, and if the vaccination is unsuccessful it must be vaccinated again. The public vaccinator must visit the home of the child for the purpose of vaccinating it if required. Vaccination by a public vaccinator is not parochial relief. If the child is not vaccinated within four months after its birth, the public vaccinator, after twenty-four hours' notice to the parent, may visit the home of the child and offer to vaccinate it.
If the child is not in a fit and proper state to be successfully vaccinated, the public vaccinator or medical practitioner is to give a certificate to that effect, and renew the certificate every two months until the child is fit. If, after unsuccessfully vaccinating the child three times, the practitioner finds that the child is insusceptible of vaccination or has had the smallpox, he is to certify to that effect.
It is the duty of the vaccinator to transmit a certificate of successful vaccination within seven days to the registrar. No fee is chargeable by him for any certificate, nor for any vaccination done under his contract.
No parent or other person is liable to any penalty who within four months from the birth of the child makes a statutory declaration that he conscientiously believes that vaccination would be prejudicial to the health of the child, and within seven days after such declaration delivers or sends it by post to the vaccination officer of the district.
The offence of concealment of birth relates to the desire to keep the world at large in ignorance of the birth, and not merely from a desire to escape the consequences of individual anger. There must be a concealment of the fact of birth, and that concealment must be carried out by the secret disposition of the dead body. The offence is an indictable one, punishable by imprisonment. The jury may acquit a person of child, murder, but find the prisoner guilty of concealment of birth upon the same indictment if the facts admit of it. There can be concealment only when the dead body of the child is placed where it is not likely to be found. Leaving it in a street is not a concealment of birth, but an offence as a public nuisance.
Woman"s Law Book will be continued in Part 2 of Every Woman's Encyclop∆dia,