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Diatribe: Judge Rules That Fathers Have No Legal Right To Be Present At The Birth Of Their Children.

03/14/2014

DeliveryRoomI was invited to be in the delivery room with my sister and her husband when my oldest niece was born.  It was an unbelievable experience and the fact that they chose to share it with me made me feel loved in a way that I had never felt before.  I can think of no moment more miraculous, intimate and emotional than the moment a new person is welcomed into the world.

Becoming a parent is a beautiful thing.  While nature relies primarily on the woman to bring a baby to the world, she cannot do it alone.  Yet, in many circumstances it seems that the rights of a father come secondary to those of a mother.

Last Monday, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Sohail Mohammed ruled that a father does not have a legal right to be in the hospital room at the time of his child’s birth if the mother does not want him there.  Privacy rights, Mohammed wrote in his opinion, protect the interests of the mother over the interests of the father.

The case began when a couple, Rebecca Deluccia and Steven Plotnick got engaged after Deluccia became pregnant.  They later called off the engagement but Plotnick then sued for the right to be in the area near the delivery room so that, when it was medically appropriate, he could see his child.

“The court finds that mother enjoys a fundamental right to privacy until her child’s birth.  The father also enjoys a pre-birth interest in the child.  However, that interest is not equal to the mother’s constitutionally recognized right or privilege.” – Superior Court Judge Sohail Mohammed

The ruling will not be appealed as both parents were able to work out some of their disagreements.  Both agree that Plotnick is the father, Deluccia will allow him to visit and his name will be included on the baby’s birth certificate.

Plotnick, apparently, was never asking to be present in the delivery room with Deluccia but near enough to greet his child as a newborn.  Surely, as a result of Judge Mohammed’s ruling, similar legal issues will surface in future cases.

What do you think?  Should fathers have the right to be present when their children are born?

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9 Comments
  1. If you’re there when the baby was conceived you have a right to be there when the baby is born.

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  2. Barneysday permalink

    And if the mother and father are disenfranchised, or there is a nasty personal situation going on, such as divorce or abuse, do you think the father should still have the right to be there?

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    • I do. Unless his presence, like that of any other person, is somehow dangerous.

      Not necessarily in the delivery room and, perhaps some sort of supervision might be appropriate, but I believe a man is entitled to a relationship with his child regardless of the status of his relationship with the baby’s mother. It’s been my experience that divorce isn’t always bad.

      I find it very interesting that this case made it as far as it did without being settled out of court and I suspect there is much more to the story that what is being shared in the media. If I had to guess, I’d say there is money involved.

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      • Barneysday permalink

        I understand your position, but I can’t imagine a darker situation than having an abusive man in the delivery room at such a intimate and vulnerable moment. and having a “policeman” standing by would only make it worse. What should be a wonderful memory for the mother could turn out to the be blackest moment of her life.

        I also can’t imagine in what universe any kind of caring, compassionate man would force himself into the delivery room, either physically or through the courts. There comes a time doing the right thing might mean backing down.

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        • Of course, I see your point as well. But, sadly, there are women who in hateful and vindictive states of mind have been known to take extreme measures to keep caring, compassionate men from their children.

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  3. thedogs'mother permalink

    I was surprised at how much I depended on my DH during the whole childbirth experience.

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  4. Interesting post. I was present for all three of mine and it was wonderful and, at times scary. Two of our three had less than normal, but not unusual births. One had the cord around her neck and she was purple when she came out and one was suffocating on the amniotic fluid every time my wife had a contraction. On the former which happens every so often, the doctor just did a few quick snips and every thing was OK. On the latter, the nurse picked it up and alerted the doctor and they asked my in-laws to leave the room, which is scary. But, this happens every once in a while and the swat team came in, cleaned out his breathing canal and everything was fine.

    I mention these as the mother is there to have a baby. If a negative presence gets in the way of that mission, I don’t care whose rights are trampled on. I asked my wife if she was OK with her parents staying for the birth of our first one, and she said it was fine. If she said it was not, I would ask them to leave. I am boiling this issue down to its basic terms as the most important thing is to help the mother have a safe birth for the child. Everything else matters less. That is my two cents.

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    • Certainly the health of both the mother and the baby are the most important. Judge Mohammed is a judge because he’s a wise man and his ruling is probably fair.

      I wonder why there’s never been a ruling on this issue before.

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