Delivery Room Ruling: Unwed Dads OutBy: Mike Tuttle - March 13, 2014
“This clears up the issue for once and for all that the woman gets to make that decision.”
This week a New Jersey judge ruled that women can keep the biological father out of the delivery room during the birth of the child, saying that the father’s presence would cause “unwarranted strain” on the mother.
The case began between two unmarried parents who were together when the child was conceived, but later broke up.
Superior Court Judge Soheil Mohammad wrote: “A finding in favor of plaintiff for both notification and forced entry into the delivery room would in fact be inconsistent with existing jurisprudence on the interests of women in the children they carry pre-birth.
“It would create practical concerns where the father’s unwelcomed presence could cause additional stress on the mother and child. Moreover, such a finding would also lead to a slippery slope where the mother’s interest could be subjugated to that of the father’s.”
According to NPR, Judge Mohammad based his opinion on two previous cases related to abortion, Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, citing that “women are not even required to tell their spouses about abortions.”
He continued, “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.
“In light of the court rulings, it strains logic to ask a pregnant woman to notify the father when she goes into labor.”
The hearing was first heard in November 2013 after the father, Steven Plotnick, brought an emergency motion to the judge. The mother, Rebecca DeLuccia, participated via telephone from the hospital as she was in labor. Judge Mohammad denied relief from the bench and DeLuccia delivered the child later that day.
Laura Nunnick, who represented Plotnick, said that her client would not have caused additional stress to the mother.
“In other cases, maybe that might have been a valid reason,” Nunnick said. “In this case, there was no history of domestic violence, or no history of previous problems between the parties, so there really was no history that my client’s presence should have provided any added stress.”
But Brian Schwartz, chairman of the New Jersey State Bar Association Family Law Section, was pleased with the ruling and said it was a victory for women.
“I think the pregnancy and the time of delivering a baby is a very stressful time of the mom. 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 quote-unquote, ‘right to access.'”
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