When it comes to estranged, unmarried parents and giving birth, a mother's right to privacy trumps a father's right to witness the birth of his child. That was the decision of Superior Court Judge Sohail Mohammed, who recently ruled a mother has the right to ban her baby's father from the delivery room during labor.
The decision brings closure to Plotnick v. DeLuccia, a dispute between New Jersey parents Rebecca DeLuccia and Steven Plotnick, who butted heads in court last year over access to their newborn. Plotnick filed a lawsuit against DeLuccia to force her to inform him when she was going into delivery.
But Mohammed ruled that a woman has no obligation to inform the father of labor, and that an unwanted presence in the delivery room could put undue stress on an already vulnerable person.
"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," wrote Mohammed in his decision, citing previous abortion rulings, such as Roe v. Wade.
"Any interest a father has before the child’s birth is subordinate to the mother’s interests," the judge continued in his decision, handed down this week. "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."
DeLuccia's lawyer said she had always planned on granting visitation rights to the father.
Bruce Eden of Dads Against Discrimination told the New Jersey Star-Ledger that the ruling was "another example of New Jersey’s anti-male discrimination in the family courts."
[New Jersey Star-Ledger]
[New Jersey Law Journal]