A New Jersey judge has ruled that women in labor can legally bar the father of their baby from being in the delivery room.
Superior Court Judge Sohail Mohammed ruled on Wednesday that patients admitted to hospitals - most specifically pregnant women - can exercise their strict privacy rights by choosing who they want and do not want in the room.
"Any interest a father has before the child's birth is subordinate to the mother's interests," Mohammed wrote in his judgment - the first of its kind. "Even when there is no doubt that a father has shown deep and proper concern and interest in the growth and development of the fetus, the mother is the one who must carry it to term."
This verdict concerns a case that was argued the day a New Jersey woman gave birth, NJ.com reported.
Rebecca DeLuccia became pregnant with Steven Plotnick's child, then got engaged. The two later called off the wedding in 2013.
"They were estranged from one another at the time delivery was approaching, for quite some time," Joanna Brick, DeLuccia's legal representative, told NJ.com. "They weren't communicating more than a little text here or there, 'Are you alive?' That kind of thing."
Plotnick submitted a suit against DeLuccia requiring that she let him know when she went into labor, and to allow him in the delivery room while she gave birth. Brick told NJ.com that a state court held a hearing the very day DeLuccia went into labor and birthed a baby girl. The mother even gave her verbal argument on the telephone from the hospital, Brick said.
"The intensity was at a 20," she stated.
In Mohammed's ruling, which was issued in DeLuccia's favor that day but publicly released this week, the judge said that Plotnick's lawsuit to be near the child was "laudable" but his "unwanted" attendance might put undue stress on the mother and child.
"Any mother is under immense physical and psychological pain during labor," he wrote. "The order the father seeks would invade her sphere of privacy and force the mother to provide details of her medical condition to a person she does not desire to share that information with."
But Laura Nunnink, Plotnick's attorney, insisted he didn't want to be in the delivery room, the father simply wanted to see the child immediately after she was born.
"He wanted to be a very involved father from the instant his child was born," Nunnink said. "It was important that he have the right to bond just as the mother would...It was unfair that he not have that right from the day the child was born."
Plotnick said he won't appeal the ruling, because he saw the baby soon after she was born.