A New Jersey court has ruled that a woman about to give birth has control of the delivery room and can choose to prohibit the father of the child from entering the room.
New Jersey Superior Court Judge Sohail Mohammed ruled that a woman’s right to privacy and the ultimate health of mother and baby supersede the desire of the father to be present at birth.
“There is no specific existing rule of law, legislatively or judicially founded, that would permit this court to grant the father the pre-birth rights that he is seeking,” wrote Judge Mohammed in Plotnick v. DeLuccia.
Here are the facts of the case:
- Man and woman date, hook up, and woman gets pregnant in February 2013.
- Shortly after, man proposes, woman accepts.
- Shortly after, woman breaks up with man.
- Finally, man sues woman.
Steven Plotnick filed suit against Rebecca DeLuccia seeking the right to be notified when DeLuccia went into labor and to be present in the delivery room for the birth of their child. Plotnick also wanted to sign, and have his surname included on, the birth certificate.
In the end, the judge’s rulings favored DeLuccia mostly due to concerns regarding the health of the woman and child. “Requiring the mother to notify the father that she has gone into labor and or require his physical presence would be an undue burden on her,” said Judge Mohammed in his ruling.
The judge referenced two landmark cases in support of his ruling. Roe v. Wade said that “the state has a legitimate interest in protecting both the mother’s health and the potentiality of life.” And Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruled that “spousal notification in the abortion context was found to be an undue burden” to the mother.
Given the circumstances of their separation, “practical concerns where the father’s unwelcomed presence could cause additional stress on the mother and child” are more important than the father’s desire to witness the birth. “The father’s application for a temporary mandatory injunction to be notified when the mother enters labor and to be present during the birth is hereby denied,” wrote Mohammed.
Brian Schwartz, chairman of the New Jersey State Bar Association Family Law Section, told 1010 WINS that “mom and dad don’t really have a signification relation although they did create a child together, and I believe that her right to privacy in that case trumps his ‘right to access.'”
As for the signature, the judge ruled that Plotnick “will not suffer immediate irreparable harm if his signing of the birth certificate or adding his surname to the child occurs at a later date.”
(Photo by joeannenah via Flickr)