In its ruling on a child custody case Monday, the Georgia Supreme Court found it significant that the child’s biological father offered to pay for an abortion.
According to the Law.com Daily Report, the high court upheld a decision denying paternity rights to the biological father, Joshua Brumbelow, based on his lack of involvement in the child’s life.
Brumbelow sued for custody of the child, a boy, who was born after a one-night stand with the child’s biological mother, Jeannie Mathenia, the report states.
In the 6-3 majority ruling, the justices said Brumbelow did not support Mathenia and their son before or after the child was born. They said he only accompanied Mathenia to one doctor’s appointment “in order to find out whether he could be the father.”
Later, after he offered to pay for an abortion and she refused, “he did not visit her, inquire about her well-being, or offer her any emotional or financial support,” according to the ruling. The justices said Brumbelow was employed and able to provide support but chose not to.
According to the report, Brumbelow took legal action after he learned through his mother that Mathenia made an adoption plan for the boy. The justices said Brumbelow did not ask to visit the boy until four months later, and only made the request once.
“It appears to me that an offer to pay for an abortion is highly probative of a lack of intent to parent the child,” Justice Charles Bethel wrote in his opinion. “Of course, hearts and minds change and the lack of an interest in parenting at the outset of a pregnancy can give way to genuine parental concern, nurture, and love. But, whether such a change has occurred is patently the sort of question appellate courts routinely leave to trial courts to resolve.”
The justices’ ruling is significant because it recognized the boy’s value and his parents’ responsibilities to him before he was born.
According to the report:
Justin Hester and partner James Outman of Atlanta’s Hester Outman represent the mother, Jeannie Mathenia, and the prospective adoptive parents. Hester said Monday that Melton’s opinion clarifies the issue of what constitutes an abandonment of opportunity in the context of a paternity dispute.
… Outman said Monday’s ruling is the first time the Supreme Court has examined the “opportunity interest” doctrine in a legitimation case and has clarified the law by making clear that opportunity interest begins at conception.
The lawyers expressed hope that the ruling will mean the boy’s adoption can now be finalized.
Legalized abortion has unnecessarily complicated the issue of fathers’ rights and responsibilities. Legally, courts have ruled, fathers do not have the right to protect their unborn children from abortion if the mother wants to have one. Only after birth are fathers required to protect their child’s life.
LifeNews Note: File photo.