The New Jersey Law Journal reports today that in what appears to be a case of first impression for the entire United States, a New Jersey Superior Court judge has ruled that a father of an unborn child has no right to be informed when the mother is in labor or to be present at the birth of the child.
In a completely logical extension of right to privacy and a woman's right to control over her body and her pregnancy, Superior Court Judge Soheil Mohammed denied the "putative father" (presumably no paternity testing had yet been done) the right to be in the delivery room over the mother's objection. The parents involved were unmarried and estranged. In his opinion published yesterday, Judge Mohammed found:
"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," he wrote in Plotnick v. DeLuccia.The opinion is a logical extension of existing law, but so heartening in this age of attacks on women's rights to privacy and bodily integrity.
"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."
Mohammed, who sits in Passaic County, held a hearing Nov. 19, 2013, in which DeLuccia participated telephonically from the hospital, where she had gone into labor. He denied the relief from the bench. DeLuccia delivered the child later the same day.
Mohammed cited the doctrine of Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), that women have the right to control their bodies during pregnancy. He also cited Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992), which struck down a state law requiring married women to notify their husbands before having an abortion.
In addition, the New Jersey [Appellate Division] held in Kinsella v. NYT Television, 382 N.J. Super 102 (2005), that disclosure of a patient's hospital admission to the [press] would violate the New Jersey Hospital Patient Bill of Rights.NJ Law Journal
The father brought an emergency motion; the mother participated in the hearing by phone, while in labor!
Last night I went to sleep after reading reports of: 1. The student-posted "rape guide" website which has already targeted two women who were then raped at Dartmouth College; and 2. A Louisiana (Democratic, female!) legislator's proposal that the state keep a record of women who take the morning-after pill.
This morning I wake up to find that at least someone somewhere understands how to treat women as human beings.
1:18 PM PT: Hey peeps thanks for the recs - knew it would be a hot topic. I edited my comment about Dartmouth based the additional information some of you provided.
As heated as some of the comments get here, they're nothing to the haters who have weighed in on the NJ Law Journal article. Don't read those if you value your blood pressure.