“Any interest a father has before the child’s birth is subordinate to the mother’s interests…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.”
With these words, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Sohail Mohammed ruled that an expectant mother can legally prevent the baby’s father from being present during delivery. In the first case of its kind between unwed parents disputing delivery room access, Mohammed cited judicial precedence found in abortion related cases — Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) — that held a woman’s privacy rights are superior to a father’s pre-birth interests. According to the Court’s Procedural History & Factual Findings:
This matter is before the court on plaintiff’s application for an order to show cause, which
was filed on November 14, 2013. In the application, plaintiff, a putative father, seeks a
temporary mandatory injunction order that: 1) he be notified when the mother, defendant, enters
labor; 2) he can be present at the delivery of the child; 3) he be able to sign the birth certificate
the day of the child’s birth; 4) his surname is included on the birth certificate; and 5) a parentingtime order be issued. Defendant filed a short letter brief on November 15, 2013.
During days leading up to the delivery, Steven Plotnick (father/plaintiff) was estranged from Rebecca DeLuccia (mother/defendant). Plotnick petitioned the Court that being prohibited from the delivery experience would place undue strain on his parental bonding. DeLuccia’s response for the Court to deny the father’s request cited privacy concerns as well as her interest in a delivery environment free of unnecessary stress. The landmark case was litigated by phone in Passaic County last year. Mohammed’s decision came on Nov. 19, 2013, the day of the baby’s birth. The Court released the official copy of the decision to the public on Monday.
The reasons cited for both sides on this issue are many and complex. Irrespective of one’s perspective, it would be reasonable to conclude that such rulings have a number of implications for American society.
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