SAN DIEGO, March 18, 2014 —Those who believe that a father has as much right as a mother to watch his newborn child come into the world received a stark awakening from a recent court decision.
A New Jersey Superior Court judge ruled in February that a mother is entitled to bar her child’s father from the delivery room while she goes through labor.
Privacy was offered as the official reason. The parents in question were unmarried and had a strained relationship.
Defending his decision, Judge Sohail Mohammed offered legal precedent by way of case law:
“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,…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.”
The judge referred to Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, two cases which overturned a state law forcing women to inform their husbands of any decision to have an abortion.
The comparison to abortion is significant. Those who are bothered by the eroding rights of fathers ought not to be surprised. The handwriting has been on the wall ever since 1973’s historic Roe v. Wade ruling.
Up to now, most of the debate regarding abortion has bounced back and forth between the rights of a mother to protect her own body and the rights of an unborn infant inside her body.
The rights of the father have somehow been lost in the shuffle.
Many who call themselves “pro-choice” make an argument that amounts to little more than the geography of the baby. Supposedly, while the baby is inside a mother’s womb, it is hers and hers alone. The father has absolutely nothing to say in the matter. And yet, miraculously, after birth, the child is every bit as much the father’s. Should he himself think otherwise, he is threatened with a palimony suit.
If there’s any consistency here, it would take quite the microscope to find it.
Even when a husband and wife decide together to have children, the woman can change her mind after she becomes pregnant. The man must accept her decision.
Bottom line: A woman has a right to chose parenthood. A man who also wants to be a parent is subject to the whim of his wife or girlfriend.
In point of fact, this debate is not really a man vs. woman issue. It is an issue that sharply divides women from other women and men from other men. Indeed, the most outspoken leaders in the right-to-life movement are women, even though our liberal media would prefer to quote some loud mouthed male preacher who denounces abortion.
Whether or not an unborn child is truly a human life with rights of its own should be the only pertinent question.
Be that as it may, since those who justify abortion generally express discomfort when the rights of the unborn baby come up and instead make the issue one of maternal choice, the question of PATERNAL choice becomes a fair discussion, especially with the recent New Jersey ruling pushing the rights of the father even further away.
Now, even a woman who decides to carry her baby to full term can claim that the father has no business being in the delivery room. And yet, the moment she takes the baby home and wants dad to chip in with the bucks, it becomes very much his business.
There was a time when double standards were corrected by courts. These days, courts have become the canonization of the double standard.
This is Bob Siegel, making the obvious, obvious.
Bob Siegel is a radio talk show host and columnist. Information about his radio show can be found at bobsiegel.net.
The New Jersey Law Journal contributed to the hard news portion of this article.