Renewed Debate Over Obama's Birth Certificate

It all begins with the statement issued by Dr. Chiyome Fukino, the director of the Hawaii Department of Health, released on October 31, 2008, and affirming the existence of Barack Obama's official birth certificate:

There have been numerous requests for Sen. Barack Hussein Obama’s official birth certificate. State law (Hawai‘i Revised Statutes §338-18) prohibits the release of a certified birth certificate to persons who do not have a tangible interest in the vital record. Therefore, I as Director of Health for the State of Hawai‘i, along with the Registrar of Vital Statistics who has statutory authority to oversee and maintain these type of vital records, have personally seen and verified that the Hawai‘i State Department of Health has Sen. Obama’s original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures.

The attorney claims that the statement was very much hedged in legalese, and that while Fukino verified there was an official birth certificate, she never claimed that the document they have provides evidence that Barack Obama was a natural born citizen.

There were four different ways to get an "original birth certificate" on record in 1961, and they varied greatly in their reliability as evidence. We'll refer to these as BC1, BC2, BC3, and BC4.

BC1: The original birth certificate could be issued by the attending medical professional at the birth, typically a physician or midwife. They were required to certify to the Department of Health the infant's name, birth date, identity of the parents if known, and other information. This is how most births were and are recorded, and by far the most likely way Barack Obama's birth was documented.

BC2: In 1961, if a person was born in Hawaii but not attended by a physician or midwife, then all that was required was that one of the parents send in a birth certificate to be filed. The birth certificate could be filed by mail. It would obviously be very unreliable and easy to falsify.

The attorney asked the Department of Health what they currently ask for (in 2008) to back up a parent’s claim that a child was born in Hawaii. He was told that all that was required was a proof of residence in Hawaii and pre-natal and post-natal certification by a physician. On follow-up the employee suggested that the pre-natal and post-natal certifications had probably not been in force in the 1960s. Quite literally, Obama's "official birth certificate" could have been mailed in from anywhere on the planet if this was true.

BC3: In 1961, if a person was born in Hawaii but not attended by a physician or midwife, then, up to the first birthday of the child, a “Delayed Certificate” could be filed. It apparently required no more than a statement before a government bureaucrat by one of the parents within the first year of the child's life.

BC4: If methods BC1, BC2, and BC3 were not used, and the child surpassed the age of one without a certificate, then a original certificate of Hawaiian birth could be issued upon testimony of an adult -- including the adult child himself -- if the office of the lieutenant governor was satisfied that a person was born in Hawaii.

If the four ways "official birth certificates" could be issued under 1955 isn't arbitrary and confusing enough, a fifth way to claim an official birth certificate for a child that claims to have been born in Hawaii who is now an adult was added in 1982, at the time a young Barry Obama was in college.

BC5: Under Act 182 H.B. NO. 3016-82, "Upon application of an adult or the legal parents of a minor child, the director of health shall issue a birth certificate for such adult or minor, provided that the proof has been submitted to the director of health that the legal parents of such individual while living without the Territory or State of Hawaii had declared the Territory or State of Hawaii as their legal residence for at least one year immediately preceding the birth or adoption of such child." In this way "state policies and procedures" accommodate even "children born out of State" (this is the actual language of Act 182) with an "original birth certificate on record."

There are five ways to get an "official" birth certificate in Hawaii, a cadre of hardcore believers that are convinced that the president is not eligible to hold the office he occupies, and an executive that doesn't seem to mind fighting these accusations in court, even as they seem to be winning some converts who are no doubt looking for a scapegoat to the problems facing America today.

These may not be the best theories, or the most tenable, but they are the theories on the rise, and there is little reason to suspect we'll see the last of them any time soon.