Fathers

The right to Be There

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.

About Ayami Tyndall

Ayami Tyndall is a self-trained network administrator and author from California. Mixing technology and social exploration, his science-fiction novels cast a new light on today's cultural problems. Raised rurally and in love with nature, he believes in the grand American tradition of Self Reliance.

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  • donzaloog

    Like I’ve heard someone say before, a man is only a father as long as the mother allows him to be. It’s complete bullshit. A man’s right to his child can be taken away with the mere word of a woman, no evidence needed.

  • Bewildered

    If you really are a woman,then the fact that you can see this truth is commendable. Women like you should raise their voices to fight this gross injustice.

    • Laura

      thank you, & yes i am a woman, & i would be happy to speak up to fight the injustices men have suffered throught the years because of the “femenizm regime” which i believe comes strait from the pits of hell.

      • Bewildered

        Hehehehehe! Looks like I have come back to planet earth again ! :a very warm hug:

        • Laura

          thank you bewildered :) ( this whole world bewilders me also).. i hear ya there..

      • Aimee McGee

        Welcome!
        Because the sisterhood has ruined the concept of sisterhood I can’t use it but it’s nice to have another honey badger around

        • Laura

          thank you Aimee :)

  • Aimee McGee

    Tell you something. If I had ever gone through labour, I’d have been glad if the father was there. I might even have asked if I could be banned from being there!
    Seriously though…the evidence shows that having the right kind of support reduces medical intervention. Having a douella is the best, but that in no way prevents the father’s presence. Most douella’ s I know want the father there to help support

  • Grant

    I am actually okay with mothers not wanting the father there in the room for the delivery. It is an issue of privacy, and when I have kids I would absolutely defer the decision to my wife as to whether she wants me in the room or not (I suspect I’ll be there). A lot of Caeserian (sp?) sections take place with the father in a waiting room. Where I take issue with this ruling is that the woman needn’t inform the father that she is in labor. There is a big difference between being told that as an estranged father you have no right to be in the room during delivery, and being told you can’t be there period. Once the delivery is done throw a sheet over her and dad is allowed in to see the newborn; that to me seems like a good compromise. These judges, however, don’t seem to understand the notion of compromise when the family breaks down. I said this in another post somewhere but I’ll repeat it here: undue burden ain’t what it used to be. I hope this guy has the option of a few weeks vacation to camp out at the hospital around due date.

    • garyonthenet

      Being ok with it voluntarily is one thing.
      It is not acceptable when the government tells you you have no right to be there, despite no RO, unfitness, or other independently determined restriction.
      The article’s quoting that dictum from the court truly is telling, that the father does not have the same pre-birth interests in his child as the mother does. The state is already violating the father’s federal rights even before the child is born.
      I too would likely defer voluntarily to a mother giving birth to my child if that is what she wanted, but there would be many questions to be asked before and after that. It does not seem natural or healthy for a mother to not want the father there for birthing, and it would raise some major red flags.

    • Aimee McGee

      Grant. C-sections are completely overmedicalised in the US.
      With most planned C-sections in most other countries they encourage the woman to have support. Even with emergencies, they only need to kick Dad out if they are giving a general anaesthetic and a vertical cut because the baby is likely to die without rapid intervention.
      My sister had 4 sections. Last one she had my parents there as well as hubby – and her son is just about to turn 20

    • Grant

      I guess the difference in between my POV and the rest of you is I’m not convinced the gov’t should step in and allow the father into the delivery room. I think that the minute it’s born the father should be allowed in, but the mother has rights too including the right to privacy. I think the difference is that I see the delivery itself as a medical procedure. Let’s also be clear that I believe the ruling is awful and is a huge step back for fathers. To cut the father out because making a phone call or even a text message that says “baby’s coming” is an undue hardship? Ridiculous. Saying that the father has no right to be in the delivery room if mom doesn’t want him there? Understandable to me.

  • feeriker

    Another reminder, guys, of why you need to keep your DNA to yourself.

  • plasmacutter

    “A father’s interest in the child pre-birth is not equal to the mother’s interest.”

    I smell a challenge under the equal protection clause for this statement.

    Still, the first thing that came to mind after reading this was the thought of a ruling barring the mother from being present at the birth of a child, hilariously enough.

  • Grant

    I completely agree… The problem with this ruling is that it seems that, depending on how long she can keep it a secret from him, he may not see the newborn for weeks. This is why I disagree that she should have a right not to tell him she is going into labor. While I agree that he has no right to be in the delivery room, he does have a right to see his child as soon after the birth as possible that doesn’t put too much strain on the hospital or the mother.

    gonna preempt the nitpicking on too much strain… something for a less biased judge to decide. I don’t have enough experience to offer an opinion on when that would be.

  • Grant

    I don’t think that solution is good enough either. In that case I can see the male being relegated to the status of grandparent or worse, an even more distant relationship. Give the father the choice of seeing the baby alone with the mother if possible, or alone without if it is impossible. Parents should be the first ones to see the child, and the time should not have to be ‘shared’ with extended family. The father has higher priority than that.

    • Susie Parker

      I said nothing about sharing visitation with extended family. I said as soon as any other visitor is allowed to visit, the father should most certainly be the first and foremost. The reason prisons stopped strapping women onto gurneys during labor is because the distress harmed the child, not because they didn’t enjoy their sadism. Like it or not, infants remember traumatic birth experiences, and angry, distressed and freaked out mothers certainly qualify as traumatic experiences.

      I’ve always had a weird “thing” about my belly button, can’t stand to think about it, can’t stand to look at it or have anything touch it. Years later I ran into a person just like me. As we were laughing about our “oddity” he mentioned he’d overheard his mother discussing an infection of his umbilical cord that freaked everyone out. I’d never put two and two together as he had, but I too heard family stories of an Aunt yanking my umbilical cord off, causing a huge family upset crisis.

      I normally hate the smug “it’s for the child” rationale, but in this particular case -yes. It DOES negatively impact the child, and yes – the mother is the one with the home field advantage.

      My sons have been screwed over on this, I sympathize, but I wouldn’t support my son if his feelings were put before the child’s. My son in law didn’t see his daughters for months after their birth due to his deployment. They worship him, and he always puts them first. They know how much he loves them. Sorry. Wish it was different.

      • Grant

        then we do agree

  • One Island

    As the mother of the author, I’m going to weigh in and disagree. If there is something unhealthy or upsetting going on in the relationship between the mother and the father, the mother has a right to protect her own well being and decrease any added fear or trauma during the birth that the father’s presence may potentially cause. It is HER body undergoing the ordeal. Period. Having people with you that you trust is the most important part of a positive birthing experience. If he hasn’t earned the right to be welcome in the room, no law should force her to endure his presence if she doesn’t want it. And she shouldn’t have to be worried he is out in the hall lurking about. This isn’t about taking the kid to the park, this is a situation where the woman’s life, well being, and courage are being tested. It is absurd that men think they should make these kind of decisions about women’s bodies. If the author would recall being present at the birth of two of his siblings, and how terrified and distracted we all would have been if some one unwelcomed had been there, he might reconsider this inexplicable view point.
    Why is feminism still important? Because men still think like this!!! No human being has a right to something they ‘want’ if it means threatening what someone else actually needs, especially in a life or death situation. In this case, women need safety, peace of mind, and kindness during birth regardless of what the biological father thinks ‘he’ wants. Better he earn his place beside her than demand it, eh?