A recent landmark case from a neighboring state has many New York residents thinking about the rights of fathers in our state. It is an interesting question: should mothers be able to ban fathers from the delivery room and, in doing so, prevent them from being present at their child’s birth?
The case was brought by a New Jersey woman who wanted to be able to decide whether or not she had to notify her estranged fiancé when she went into labor or give him access to the newborn. The judge ruled in the mother’s favor, stating that “any interest a father has before the child’s birth is subordinate to the mother’s interests.”
The judge based his ruling on two well-known abortion cases, Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The privacy precedents set in those cases, the judge stated, dictate that the father has no right to invade the mother’s “sphere of privacy” during the intense and painful labor and delivery process.
Many fathers’ rights activists have taken issue with the judge’s ruling, arguing that today’s fathers are more actively involved in child-rearing than ever before, providing physical, emotional and financial support. As such, they argue, fathers should have equal parenting rights to their children at every stage of their lives, including at birth.
However, it is unlikely that this landmark decision will be overturned. The father in the case has declined to file an appeal, satisfied that the mother eventually allowed him to hold the couple’s child. It remains to be seen how the decision will affect future cases in the state and nationwide.
What do you think? Should New York mothers have the right to ban fathers from the delivery room?
Source: The Christian Science Monitor, "N.J. judge cites women's rights in barring unwed dad from child's birth," Patrik Jonsson, March 12, 2014