A New Jersey judge has ruled that a woman preparing to give birth can prevent the father of the child from being in the delivery room during the time of the birth. The judge in the case relied on the infamous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that paved the way for 57 million abortions as his rationale.
Superior Court Judge Sohail Mohammed said all patients are allowed to decide who can be at their hospital bedsides — pregnant women included. According to the Newark Star-Ledger, the judge said fathers have no legal right to be present at the birth of their children.
The case started with a couple, Steven Plotnick and Rebecca Deluccia. They got engaged after Deluccia became pregnant, but later broke up. Plotnick then sued for the right to be present at the birth of his child.
In his ruling, Mohammed said the father’s “unwanted” presence in the delivery room could put stress on the mother and harm the fetus.
“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 New Jersey newspaper has more on the decision:
The mother’s privacy rights won the day, the judge wrote, because of a pair of landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions on abortion — Roe v. Wade from 1973 and Planned Parenthood v. Casey from 1992. The high court established in those rulings that an expectant mother has a stronger right over her body and over her unborn child than the father. A court majority in Casey ruled that women are not even required to tell their spouses about abortions, Mohammed noted.
The New Jersey Supreme Court has also struck down a law requiring that minors notify their parents before they get abortions, ruling in 2000 that the law infringed on those minors’ privacy rights.
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In light of the court rulings, Mohammed wrote, it strains logic to ask a pregnant woman to notify the father when she goes into labor.
Bruce Eden of Dads Against Discrimination called the ruling “another example of New Jersey’s anti-male discrimination in the family courts.”
Most custody awards and divorce settlements favor the mother or wife, and courts have found fathers have many financial obligations in rearing children, but not the same level of rights, he said. “It takes two to tango,” Eden said. “Why are they allowing only the mother?”