A ruling in New Jersey now allows mothers to ban fathers from the delivery room. Citing privacy laws afforded all patients in choosing who gets to be at their bedside, the judge ruled in favor of Rebecca Deluccia by allowing her to keep Steven Plotnick out of the room. Honestly, I didn't think this was even an issue. Surely mothers in labor can choose who is and is not allowed in the room, right?
In the written ruling, Superior Court Judge Sohail Mohammed sided with mothers. From the NJ.com article:
"Any interest a father has before the child’s birth is subordinate to the mother’s interests," Mohammed wrote. "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."
Some people, like Bruce Eden of Dads Against Discrimination called the ruling "another example of New Jersey’s anti-male discrimination in the family courts." I could see how this ruling could be viewed in that way. I can't imagine being a father-to-be, wanting to be involved, and to be denied access—even for just that initial entrance to the world. The father in this case was given access to his child in the hospital, after the birth had taken place. It would be hard to let that go, to give it up, to miss that monumental moment.
As much as I want to argue against this ruling, as much credit as I want to give amazing men like my husband, I know that rulings like this serve an important purpose for mothers and babies. For every mother that might abuse this in a petty argument with her child's father, other mothers need this for safety. Other mothers need this to protect themselves, the baby they are actively pushing forth into this world. Other mothers need that space, that safety. I will always side with these mothers.
If my daughter's biological father had shown up in the hospital on the day I went into labor, my already dangerously high blood pressure would have spiked. Or tanked. A tenuous situation at best, I wouldn't have been in imminent danger by his hand, but with an already high risk pregnancy and a tricky delivery ahead of me, I didn't need that stress. The nurses didn't need to act as mediators; they needed to tend to me and help me get through the birth of my baby. The doctors didn't need to deal with a man who was angry that I didn't have an abortion; they needed to help me safely guide my baby into this world. I needed a safe place in which to bring my beautiful, perfect little baby girl into this world.
I am feeling confused though, as I thought a mother could refuse entry to anyone. I know I was asked at all three deliveries, at two different hospitals, the names of people who were and weren't allowed in my room for both delivery and the hospital stay.
What are your thoughts on this ruling? Should mothers ever be allowed to refuse entry to the delivery room? Have you ever done so? Would you?
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