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Delivery room ruling: Fathers have no legal rights in delivery room, judge rules

Superior Court Judge Sohail Mohammed
Superior Court Judge Sohail Mohammed
(AP)

The delivery room ruling by a New Jersey judge is one of the first cases of its kind in the United States ever. Superior Court Judge Sohail Mohammed’s ruling stated that fathers have no established legal rights to be in the delivery room and to be present when a baby is born. According to a NJ.com report on March 12, “a woman preparing to give birth can bar the father of their child from entering the delivery room.”

As a reason behind his ruling, the judge said that all patients – especially a woman giving birth – have the right for privacy and a stress-free environment. Even though a father’s interest to be present at birth might be sincere and supportive, the interest of the mother dominates over the interest of the father.

The delivery room ruling was made public in written form on Monday, and the judge based his ruling on “a pair of landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions on abortion — Roe v. Wade from 1973 and Planned Parenthood v. Casey from 1992. The high court established in those rulings that an expectant mother has a stronger right over her body and over her unborn child than the father. A court majority in Casey ruled that women are not even required to tell their spouses about abortions, Mohammed noted.”

In 2013, Steven Plotnick sued the mother of his child, Rebecca DeLuccia, to be informed when the mother of his baby would go into labor and to be present at his child’s birth. The couple had conceived a child together, got engaged, called off the wedding, and had minimal contact since then, according to DeLuccia's lawyer.

The delivery room ruling came down on Nov. 19, the day that DeLuccia gave birth to a baby girl. The court hearing was held while DeLuccia was in labor, and she was able to participate in oral arguments via telephone from the delivery room. In his written statement, Superior Court Judge Sohail Mohammed wrote that “disputes between two unwed parents over who can be present at the child’s birth ‘have never been litigated in New Jersey or the United States’.”