I respect the National Parents Organization. I have been reading their publications for years, reaching far back into their years known as Fathers and Families. They do good work and Robert Franklin covers a wide range of vitally important topics in regards to father’s rights, a core part of the Men’s Rights Movement.
Now, however, I must cry foul.
In an article published on March 17th titled New Jersey Father Barred by Law from Delivery Room, Franklin discusses a judge’s ruling in New Jersey:
A New Jersey Superior Court judge ruled last week that an unmarried father, Steven Plotnik, has no right to be in the delivery room for the birth of his child and no right to be notified of when the mother, Rebecca DeLuccia, goes into labor.
Franklin goes on to agree with the decision, although he says “reluctantly”:
Within its limited context, Judge Mohammed’s decision makes sense
Do I want courts to start ordering mothers in labor to allow fathers into their delivery rooms whether they want them there or not? No. And if the rest of the law on fathers and children were set aright, Judge Mohammed’s ruling would be no big deal.
And it is there I must disagree. The decision does not make sense, it is a big deal and I absolutely do want courts ordering for those men to have access to the birth of their children.
Parental rights are a Constitutional Right and no parent can (constitutionally, not that most judges pay attention to that) be denied the right to act as a parent without a finding of unfitness. Parental rights are a legal default, a presumption that cannot be waived without evidence that doing so is in some party’s best interest, supposedly the child’s.
And that does in fact, despite evidence, media depiction and court precedent to the contrary, apply to men as fathers. Any man who is a father has a right by default to be a father, to interact with and care for his child free of interference from the state or any individual.
And, I say, to be there at the child’s birth. Mother’s privacy be damned. That child is as much his as hers and the mother’s wish for some pittering “privacy” is no grounds for barring a father from being present at the birth of his child, a monumentally important event in his life and the life of his newly born child. There is likely no more powerful or fleeting moment of father-child bonding.
And that should be denied on one woman’s whim? No, if paternal rights are constitutionally protected, that includes the right, unobstructed, to be present at a child’s birth. Franklin says:
The spectacle of a father, who may be crazy or violent or who is estranged from the mother being able to get a court order allowing him to be present at the birth of his child regardless of all else seems a bit much.
It is not a bit much, it is hyperbolic fear mongering the likes of which I expect from feminists. Crazy or violent? A vanishingly small percentage of the population. Estranged? Well, tough nuggets. He’s still the father, the child is still half his and the mother has no right to block his access at birth or anywhere else. If there are going to be court orders, it will be ones showing the father to be unfit, because without such a finding no one has any right to keep him away. His parental rights are the default, and the court has to overturn them, not the mother’s wish for the father to be barred from attending the birth.
If not, why stop at birthing? The mother claims the father is “unsafe” in some emotionally based way impossible to prove, that his presence is just too stressful, and poof!, no more bedtimes, birthdays, soccer games or sleep overs. In the New Jersey case, there doesn’t even seem to have been any claim of abuse or violence, and not even the formality of a restraining order. The court simply found:
…that it would be an undue burden on the mother to require her to notify the father when she is in labor or require his presence during labor. It would invade her sphere of privacy and provide unwarranted strain on the mother.
And, most tellingly:
A father’s interest in the child pre-birth is not equal to the mother’s interest.
That about sums it up. You wanna be there, daddy? Too bad, piss off, and thank you very much. Does a father’s interest ever surpass or even match a mother’s? Most judges seem to think not, and this case exemplifies that. A mother’s desire to privacy trumps a father’s right to be present at the birth of his child.
Maybe that’ll be a new cry in divorce cases. She wants privacy at home, so dad just has to go! After all, who wants a nasty, hairy, overly Y chromosomed man sleeping next to you when he can pay the bills just as well from a motel somewhere. Make no mistake, this ruling will do nothing to reduce Mr. Plotnik’s child support requirements. As always seems to be the case, for men it is all responsibilities and no rights.
And as usual, social science is on our side. It is an established fact that having an involved father greatly benefits a child’s well-being throughout their life. It has also been shown that fathers, much like mothers, emotionally and physiologically bond with their child at birth, thereby encouraging a meaningful ongoing relationship between father and child.
Barring a father from attending his child’s birth isn’t just a breach of his constitutional rights, it is abuse of the child. Whatever your stance on fetal-personhood, once the baby is out and breathing it is an individual human being and keeping it from its father is abuse.
This case is just another example of a father’s rights taking a backseat to the subjective happiness of a mother. If mothers want fathers out of “their delivery rooms”, they’ll have to prove it is medically unsound for them to be there. Anything else is criminal obstruction of a father’s constitutional rights and is little different from full-blown maternal kidnapping.