Judge Makes Awesome Ruling That Dads Can’t Be In Delivery Room If Moms Don’t Want Them There

shutterstock_169339061__1394728703_142.196.156.251I’m sympathetic to men who want to witness the birth of their children; I get it. You made this human and you have every right to be there, in theory. But this week, a New Jersey judge has ruled that women can keep biological fathers out of the delivery room. Although I understand the frustration that fathers who may be kept from the delivery room would feel – I am behind this decision 100-percent. Why? Because the health of the mother and baby is more important than a father feeling left out. Also, because it’s her body and she has every right to make medical decisions – including who is around her when she delivers.

From NPR:

NPR’s Jennifer Ludden reports that the ruling involves a couple who got engaged after the woman became pregnant but later broke up. The man sued for the right to be present at the birth of his child. Jennifer filed this report for our Newscast unit:

“The judge ruled that requiring the father’s presence would pose ‘unwarranted strain’ on the mother.

“He cited a patient’s right to privacy and a pregnant woman’s right to control her body. The ruling says women also are not obligated to inform a father when

they’re going into labor.

The only thing that a woman in labor needs to be thinking about is delivering her child safely. Some fathers may feel that women can maliciously keep them out of delivery rooms. Maybe they are right. I don’t care. Whatever bullshit that is going on between a couple (or not) having a child should take a backseat to the mother being in the least amount of stress as possible while she is delivering a baby. A father that would blatantly deny the safety of his child (stress + labor do not mix) for his own self interest is not thinking about his child first. The fact that a woman would need to turn to the law to keep a man out of the delivery room proves that him being there would not be in the best interest of a smooth delivery.

To blatantly disregard that stress can negatively affect the outcome of a birth is ridiculous. It may seem unfair, but pregnancy still happens inside a woman’s body. Therefore, she has every right to make medical decisions – including deciding who will be present for medical procedures. Once the baby exits the womb, a father is entitled to equal rights as far as I’m concerned. But while the baby is still in it – sorry. Her body her choice.

(photo: tommaso79/ Shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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    • Taxes Make Kittens Cry

      LOL what a bitch [the dad, not Maria (I HATE SPERM DONORS) Guido].

      Anyways, this shouldn’t even have been an issue. I believe medical confidentiality is statutory in every state. Even between spouses. If the patient says GTFO, you have to.

      Although, I suppose the dad could argue that he’s a guardian of the unborn baby so he has a right to be present for the procedure…

      • Kelly

        If men could claim parental rights over unborn babies, we’d have prison wards full of pregnant women tied to beds to prevent them from having the abortions they wanted.

        I don’t think that’s a road any rational person really wants to go down.

      • Taxes Make Kittens Cry

        LOL I wasn’t suggesting that there’s any logical basis to argue a father has any rights over an unborn baby. But at the moment of birth, he probably does… of course, if I’m the mother, I would just say “prove you’re the dad, I slept with 20 different men 9-10 months ago” ;P

      • Kelly

        LOL, that’s definitely one way to postpone dealing with him.

      • Rachel Sea

        Paternity can be determined prenatally. It causes miscarriage 1 out of 100 times, but that doesn’t deter some people.

      • jane

        Except the bode “I’m a d-bag” miller case proves that some men are trying to claim parental rights before the child is born. And he got some traction, too. I think this is far from settled, actually. (Also, wouldn’t we want to be able to enforce some kind of parental responsibility in some cases? Like what if a couple gets divorced when mom is 4 months pregnant. Does dad have no financial obligation if she has to leave work early for bed rest? Does he not have to help pay for a crib? What about surgery in utero? It’s actually a really complicated legal question).

      • Taxes Make Kittens Cry

        If the dude wants visitation rights of an unborn… isn’t that like… ewww…

      • Laurna Macnear

        I believe in the case of a divorce, at least some states would declare the husband the father if the divorce happened after the pregnancy. In the case of a single person, there is no financial obligation until the child is born unless the male decides too. Paternity has to be resolved after the birth of the child.

      • blh

        If parent are unmarried the father has no legal rights, until he signs something after the baby is born.

      • Taxes Make Kittens Cry

        You’re absolutely right. There’s only a legal presumption of paternity if the man is married to the mother.

      • jane

        This is really a question, because I honestly don’t know the answer – does he have legal obligations? Or is there no presumption of a relationship with the future baby until baby is born?

      • blh

        No obligations. The dad becomes the father legally when he signs something after the baby is born or gets a court ordered DNA test.

    • ted3553

      Keeping him out of a medical procedure is not the same as keeping him away from his child once born. There’s no way a father should be in the delivery room if the mother’s doesn’t want him there.

    • whiteroses

      I debated whether or not I wanted DH in the delivery room. Not because we had any issues going on, but because I had no idea what was going to go down, how he’d react to it, or if he was going to pull an Elvis on me and suddenly not find me attractive after the baby was born. I am (despite my frequent Disqus posts about rather personal topics) a relatively private person.

      In the end, I decided I was fine with it. DH would have been all right with my decision either way. As he said, “This is a major medical procedure. I’m not the one going through it, you are. I’ll support you the best I can however you need me to.” And that freed me up to make the right choices for our family. But the thing is- if the patient doesn’t want someone in the room for a major medical procedure, whether it’s labor or a kidney stone- the patient has the right to deny ANYONE access. As it should be.

      • PJ ( FVSU Wildcat)

        It is about time, women have decision power for themselves. All this stuff about us submitting to husbands’ decisions on these internet marriage sites are okay to a certain extent. But anyone with common sense, knows that a husband cannot override his wife deciding on who sees her in the delivery room or any exam room. Sorry husbands. You cannot make the decisions here. 3-13-2013

    • Kelly

      At first I wanted to say wait… previously a man could force himself into a delivery room even if the woman in labor didn’t want him there?

      But then I realized that no decent hospital would allow that. I’m glad the judge ruled correctly on this issue though. It is a medical procedure. The person undergoing the actual procedure should get to make that call, no one else.

    • Jessifer

      I wholeheartedly agree that a woman should have the right to decide who remains in the delivery room.

      That being said, I feel bad for the kid in all of this. If his parents are arguing before the courts about this kind of stuff before he’s even born, how are they ever going to agree on how to parent him/her or settle any kind of custody issues in a civilized manner?

      • Kelly

        Well, hopefully this sent a message to the father. Plus, I know people always want to claim that arguments are 50/50 and all but I don’t see how the mother could be blamed for this court case at all. Her ex boyfriend wanted to be in the delivery room and she said no and he sued her.

        Her reaction was mature, normal and reasonable. So, there’s at least a chance that one of the parents is sane and stable.

      • PJ (Wildcat)

        I don’t know why men think they can invade a woman’s privacy. it’s about time. Besides, he is just a boyfriend. He is not even her husband. Wow man!

      • PJ(wildcat)

        There is no need for an argument. The woman says she wants her vagina privacy and that is all to it. There is no need for an argument. Her vagina is hers.
        3-13-2013
        If her husband asks for privacy when he gets his penis examined, she will give him privacy,

    • K.

      …This had to go to court??

      I don’t get why. Doesn’t she already assume rights of medical privacy? If they’re not married (and I’m not sure it makes much of a difference even if they were), then the guy has as much right to be there as our local librarian.

      • Kelly

        You can sue for pretty much anything though, even if it’s completely ridiculous and you have no chance of winning. The good news is that now there’s a legal precedent set protecting a woman’s privacy in this kind of situation.

      • CMJ

        It didn’t HAVE to….the father chose to sue.

      • K.

        I guess I’m surprised that a judge didn’t just throw out the case.

        Oh well.

        I hope she sues him back for the legal fees. Litigious? Naaahhh….

      • Pam (wildcat)

        Women needed this. There are some men, who think they have the right to intrude in their woman’s private space and bring in visitors. We needed this ruling.

    • Victoria

      This is actually a huge step forward in a number of ways that extend outside the case itself. Saying that a pregnant woman has the right to privacy and make decisions about her health is a legal precedent that can be cited whenever someone tries to interfere in decisions that would have embodied consequences for pregnant people. Also, I’ve had a hysterectomy, so never giving birth, but I don’t think I would want any non-medical personnel present, and as few of those as possible, since I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to be dignified in that situation.

      • Andrea

        It is very impossible. Won’t go into details, but it is by far the most undignified experience I have even gone through. And that includes any drunken escapades during college spring break.

      • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

        Yes, there is nothing dignified about birth. It can be many things, good and bad, but ultimately you’re more naked than naked and making weird noises and people are fishing around in your orifices. Dignity is gone, leaving you mentally stripped for nurses to start honking your boobies, which start seeing the light of day more often than not.
        I let my husband see me through it all, and my legally blind aunt for the healing process, and medical professionals as sparingly as possible as needed.
        Ex lovers? Pfft.

    • rrlo

      Totally agree – women giving birth should get to decide what support person she wants in the room.

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      Yes, this was the correct call, no question. He has a right to the child once the child is born. Baby is out, dad gets a call informing him he is a father and he should be allowed to meet the baby as soon as possible.
      But you just can’t have unwanted persons in hospital rooms, interfering with a patient against their will. Stress can inhibit labour. And birth is so personal. It’s not a spectacle that others have a right to view. It’s a privilege, and one bestowed by only the mother.
      And hell, could you imagine? Like, if you were asked to consent to medical choices and you might have your ex butting in with his two cents, pushing or discouraging a C section, or an episiotomy? Stress would shoot through the roof.

      • whiteroses

        And what if, God forbid, something awful happened? What if she bled out? What if something was wrong with the child?

        My DH was with me every step of the way. And we had discussed in detail before I went into labor what I wanted and what he could consent to on my behalf. I can’t imagine putting that power in the hands of someone who didn’t care about me.

      • rrlo

        Your husband is your next of kin. In this case the father was an ex. If I were this woman, I would want my next of kin as the support person (mother, sister whatever) as opposed to an ex. I doubt that any man who sued the mother of his child cares too deeply for the mother in the first place.

        So I definitely agree with the ruling that the labouring woman should have the right to choose who is in the room.

        This doesn’t mean that the father cannot wait outside or within reach etc.

        ETA: Sorry I completely mis-read your comment. I totally agree with what you’re saying!

      • whiteroses

        True. My only experience with labor, however, is as a married woman- and we weren’t that until the third trimester of my pregnancy. I was able to get through that delivery because I had the delivery room support of the one person I wanted to be there over any others. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be forced to have someone there who you didn’t want.

      • rrlo

        Imagine if it was an abusive relationship or rape…

      • whiteroses

        Exactly.

      • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

        Her ex fiance would not be the decision maker for her, as her parents would be the next of kin, I imagine. I bet if he were there he’d want to call the shots. Someone who’d get lawyers involved to be in the delivery room strikes me as someone with control issues.

    • Taxes Make Kittens Cry

      BTW… I feel so sorry for this kid… he/she’s gonna have to grow up with two not-so-grown-ups who can’t deal with their shit in an adult like manner.

      Also, the dad seems to be like Rachel Canning.

    • JLH1986

      This is a major change from 20 years ago. My mother almost died in child birth with me and later my brother. My parents decided 2 was enough and mom wanted a tubal ligation. My brother was a C-section and while she was open they wanted the dr. to take care of things. She was 27. The doctor made my FATHER sign a piece of paper stating that it was ok…not my mother whose body it was and whose life would have been at risk if they had gotten pregnant again. My father was floored and thought somehow they got confused. Nope the nurse explained as the husband he had the ultimate say. How many women were stuck in this position who didn’t have supportive husbands? Ugh.

      • SusannahJoy

        Wow that’s… disturbing. Yay for progress? Or something?

      • http://mother--bored.tumblr.com/ Aimee Ogden

        My jaw is on the floor and my blood pressure has hit the ceiling after reading that. Yowsers.

      • JLH1986

        When my mom told me.that my head exploded. I still can’t process. Mom naturally 28 years later gets pissed thinking about it. I talked to friends mom’s who had the same issue. Ugh

      • Pam in the Valley

        Evidently, they did this because she was not able to sign the form. Otherwise it would have been given to the wife.

      • Pam (Wildcat)

        “They” can’t get pregnant. “She” can. Please do not take away things from women that are exclusive to women. We don’t take men’s territory from them, do we.
        Can we women say, “We have an erection?” or “We are carrying sperm?”

      • KarenMS

        I think you’re being nit-picky considering her comment was pro-women’s bodily autonomy. I don’t say it myself, but I consider “they’re pregnant” a pretty minor offense considering the baby shares the man’s DNA too, unlike the erection or sperm. If the mom is cool with the phrasing, while it’s not literally correct, it’s not taking anything away from her.

      • Pam in the Valley

        @KarenMS,
        Alright Miss fast butt KarenMS, since you want to go there, let’s. Now let me explain to you that I was not disagreeing with JLH1986 or attacking her. I wholeheartedly agree with her. I was simply adding my comment from what I experience with men, while using a bit of sarcasm to show what I know. There was no need for you to attack me and say I am being nit-picky. You must learn to respect others’ points of view.
        Also, learn how to respect another’s point of view. You may disagree. But no labeling or name calling is needed. Why are you defending men anyway, they would not attack one of their own to defend you. You will not get an award or a trophy from males, for tearing at another female. So, be still for a minute andopen your eyes and ears and observe how men respect each other, unlike females and don’t act catty to each other.

      • KarenMS

        Lol. “Nit-picky” is not an attack.

      • Williwaw

        I think something similar happened to my mom in the seventies – she wanted her tubes tied after having a couple kids, and the doctor refused to do it without her husband’s consent (I can’t remember the exact details, as this was years ago).

      • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

        I’ve heard of this. It’s pretty vile. I was horrified to learn women used to not be allowed to hold their own mortgages without a male cosigner. This is worse.
        We’ve come a long way.

      • MellyG

        wow. just wow.

    • Angela

      I had no idea this was even up for debate. The hospital I worked in was very clear that NO ONE, including fathers, were allowed in labor or delivery without the mother’s permission. Fathers didn’t even have the right to visit babies in the nursery without the mother’s consent unless she listed him on the birth certificate (or she’d agreed to an amnio for DNA testing). Even then he was only guaranteed 1 hr/day of visitation. If the mom chose not to list him then he’d have to wait and get paternity established via DNA and the courts by which time the mother and baby would almost certainly be discharged.

      • Pam (Wildcat)

        They needed to make this ruling for all women, because, some people were straight up intruding into the delivery room. Nurses were being passive and stupid. Women’s husbands and boyfriends had started inviting their mom and dad into the delivery room, without even asking his wife’s permission. Crazy men! Tthere you had a woman in pain and not even aware of who was in the room and here comes her husband’s parents. Can you believe this crap? I had read about this. I couldn’t believe that a husband would actually do something like this to his wife. My hubby wouldn’t dare try to bring his parents in my medical room.. He knows that is my decision. It has nothing to do with a man being the daddy of the baby, because the woman is the patient and she is naked and has to be examined. On what planet does a man get to bring in visitors? So you see this law was needed and way overdue for women.
        There were some internet forums that had arguments back and forth mostly between women who argued for a need to copmpromise. Some of us women are really stupid and foolish for our husbands. Compromise on what?. A naked wife does not need to compromise with her husband about her naked bleeding vagina and lactating breasts, that would be exposed in front of his parents.
        What woman on this earth wants he father in law to be in the room where her vagina is bleeding and stretching? Anyway, why would a Father in law even want to intrude into his daughter in law’s naked space anyway? He is being disrespectful to her. 3-13-2013

      • http://ichasekids.com/ Litterboxjen

        Hah, if my husband had tried to bring his parents in while I was labouring, he would’ve been excluded from the room as well.

      • dyfts

        Yes, several hospitals in my area also I have heard stories of dads being thrown out at the woman’s request. I do feel for the guys who want to be involved, but it has to be the patient’s choice. So far everyone involved in these conversations seems to think the same way. Too bad for him, but when in the hospital, for medical safety of mom and baby, she has to have the ultimate say.

    • Alex

      I would think that ANYONE who is not medical staff has absolutely no legal right to be present at any medical procedure. Whether the patient wants you there or not, you’re just in the goddamn way of the treatment team.

    • Kati

      Do not, i repeat do not follow the NPR thread on Facebook discussing this. The mysogynist asshats commenting there with their talk of “planting the seed” will give you a brain aneurysm. On a completely unrelated side note, does anyone else smell almonds?

    • Frannie

      The only thing that upsets me about this is that it isn’t already automatically implied that the mother gets to choose who is in the room with her and who isn’t. I’m so glad there is now a legal precedent set, but I honestly would have thought it was set already. I hope other states follow suit. I sometimes joke with DH that I don’t even want him in the delivery room seeing me that way- I can’t even imagine having to go through that with your ex in the room. Ugh.

    • darras

      Meh.. I actually know a guy who went through something like this. He and his girlfriend broke up while she was pregnant (because she’s a nutjob), he wasn’t told when she was in labour, in fact he didn’t even know about his daughter’s birth for two days. And he only found out then because a mutual friend told him. I think a father has the right to know when his child is being born. Although I do agree that the mother should have the right to deny him entrance to the room.
      Testament to this woman’s nuttiness as follows – when my friend rented a room from a friend so that he would have the required safe room to see his child when in the mother’s home town.. The mother started spreading the rumour that his FRIEND was a paedophile.

      So.. I think that it’s important to consider such situations.

      • PJ

        @Guest,
        Yes he has the right to know about his daughter being born.That being said, it is mighty cruel and nasty for you to use nuttiness to describe her. Please dont call women names when they do not agree with men. It is absolutely okay for a woman to ban a boyfriend from the room where SHE is the patient. Would you say he was nutty, if he barred her from te room while he was having his penis examined??

    • Momma425

      For my husband and I- it is an agreed upon thing. I need my privacy respected- even by my own husband. Period, the end.
      I can’t imagine being vulnerable like that in front of anyone again, ever- but having an ex in there seeing me have a c-section? FORGET THAT. I’m shocked this was even a thing.

    • june

      This was ONE case and the ruling was based on a couple who were no longer together. Your title is misleading. This does not apply to ALL couples.

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      we already have rules for if we ever choose to have a child-
      He is gonna be there.
      He is allowed take ONE picture (permitting)
      then he is to tell me how wonderful and amazing I look/am whilst I look like I am crapping out Shrek.

    • Philip

      Men just another reason to NEVER GET Married!!!

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