N.J. Judge Rules that Mother Can Decide if Father Allowed to Be Present in Delivery Room

| by Lina Batarags

A New Jersey Superior Court judge ruled that the father of an unborn child has no right to be informed when the mother is in labor if such a notification contradicts the mother’s wishes. The law also states that the father has no right to be present at the birth of the child in such a situation.

As noted by the Daily Kos, Superior Court Judge Soheil Mohammed’s ruling denied the “putative father” the right to be in the delivery room over the mother’s objection.

The ruling represents an extension of the right to privacy and a woman’s right to control over her body and her pregnancy.

Mohammed was presiding over a case in which the parents were unmarried and estranged.

“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,” Mohammed wrote yesterday in Plotnick v. DeLuccia.

According to the Star-Ledger, Mohammed, who sits in Passaic County, stated that the “father’s unwelcomed presence could cause additional stress on the mother and child.”

On Nov. 19, 2013, the father in question brought an emergency motion. DeLuccia had gone into labor, and participated in the hearing via phone call from the hospital. DeLuccia delivered the child later the same day; Mohammed denied the relief from the bench.

The judge cited the doctrine from the 1973 Roe v. Wade case, in which it was established that women have the right to control their bodies during pregnancy. He also cited Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 case that struck down the state law requiring married women to notify their husbands before having an abortion.

Also cited was the 2005 court decision that disclosure of a patient’s hospital admission to the press would violate the New Jersey Hospital Patient Bill of Rights, as decided in Kinsella v. NYT Television.

Mohammed noted that the father’s right to be present in the delivery room against the mother’s wishes is an issue that has “never been litigated in New Jersey or the United States.”

As Brian Schwartz, chairman of the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Family Law Section, said, the decision “clears up the issue for once and for all that the woman gets to make that decision.”


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