In a unique finding a New Jersey Court has sided with a mom, ruling that a woman preparing to give birth can bar the father of their child from entering the delivery room.
The legal dispute, which went before Superior Court Judge Sohail Mohammed has found that pregnant women should have strong privacy protections that let them decide who can be at their hospital bedside.
But what is more shocking is that ‘fathers have no established legal right to be present at the birth of their children’, the judge wrote.
“Any interest a father has before the child’s birth is subordinate to the mother’s interests,” Mohammed wrote. “Even when there is no doubt that a father has shown deep and proper concern and interest in the growth and development of the fetus, the mother is the one who must carry it to term.”
The ruling comes after a dad-to-be sued his partner for the right to be present at their child’s birth.
Rebecca DeLuccia and Steven Plotnick conceived a child, got engaged, and later broke up before their planned wedding in 2013.
“They were estranged from one another at the time delivery was approaching, for quite some time,” said Rebecca’s attorney, Joanna Brick. “They weren’t communicating more than a little text here or there, ‘Are you alive?’ That kind of thing.”
Steve sued to have Rebecca inform him when she went into labor, and to grant him access to the baby at the hospital upon birth.
The hearing was held the same day Rebecca went into labor. Her lawyer said, the mom-to-be participated in the arguments by conference call from the delivery room.
Judge Mohammed, ruling in Rebecca’s favor noted that “any mother is under immense physical and psychological pain during labor. … The order the father seeks would invade her sphere of privacy and force the mother to provide details of her medical condition to a person she does not desire to share that information with.”
The dad’s attorney responded saying that he didn’t ever want to be in the delivery room, but just see the baby as soon after her arrival as possible.
“He wanted to be a very involved father from the instant his child was born,” Laura Nunnink said. “It was important that he have the right to bond just as the mother would. … It was unfair that he not have that right from the day the child was born.”
Which is not an unreasonable request.
Rebecca maintains that she always planned to allow her ex to see the baby after she arrived. Her lawyer says that the now single, working mother was acting to protect her child’s health: “She did what she thought was right, to give birth in a stress-free environment.” From the start she says Rebecca “was going to provide him access to the child, as a visitor, through normal hospital procedure.”
Sadly, this dad had to go to court to ensure this.
I fully understand that the judge was working to protect the baby from unneeded stress in the womb and during the delivery, but there has to be something in place to make sure that new dads are able to meet their babies shortly after they come in to the world.