The water breaks. The contractions are five minutes apart. Time to head
to the hospital. And once at the hospital, time to settle in for a short
run or a marathon awaiting that most revered of moments, when a child
is born, that holy time, the sancity and privacy of birth. So where do
Father's Rights fit in to all of this?
At the birth, the people most critical and special are in attendance. But
what happens when the couple who created the child are at odds for reasons
good or bad, blameless or blame laden, and the mother objects to father's
presence in the delivery room?
The birth is certainly a private time. It certainly is an exposed time.
It's hard to imagine a more vulnerable state. Should the mother be
allowed to exclude the father from the birth of of their child? Or do
Father's Rights extend to a right to attend the birth?
In a case of first impression (i.e., never been decided before) a New Jersey
"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," Judge
Sohail Mohammed ruled.
That makes sense. That is a fair way to decide this issue. Judge Mohammed
identified the source of the competing claim well, if a father claimed
he had a superior right to be in the delivery room, he would be asserting
a right to subjugate the mother's interest to his, by definition.
No doubt a factual scenario could be created which would make us collectively
wince, concerned that the mother was being onerous in excluding the father.
But on the other side of the coin, it is easy to envision a scenario in
which we would agree that the mother should be able to keep father out.
Perhaps he is an abuser. Perhaps he has already begun a new relationship.
When we contemplate in the alternative we have to then ask the question,
how would we like the issue resolved? Should we have a bright line rule,
mother's decide or father's decide, or should we allow judicial
resolution on a case by case basis? While I don't believe that the
proverbial floodgates would open should this issue be left up to a litigated
outcome, it seems that the privacy of the moment, the vulnerability of
the event, should outweigh a father's competing interest to be present
over the mother's objection.
I think a bright line rule is best. Here,
What do you think?