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New Jersey Judge Rules Women Can Keep Fathers Out Of Delivery Room

Posted: March 12, 2014

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Basing his opinion on two landmark abortion cases, the judge said a woman has a stronger right over her body and her unborn child than the father. This is likely one of the first rulings of its kind.

The case of whether a woman could keep the biological father of her child out of the delivery room was argued while she was in the hospital to give birth.

The case of whether a woman could keep the biological father of her child out of the delivery room was argued while she was in the hospital to give birth.

A New Jersey judge likely made history this week when he released an opinion that found women can keep the biological father of their children out of the delivery room.

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 case was argued by telephone — while the New Jersey woman was in the hospital to give birth.

"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. Some fathers' rights groups say the decision is discriminatory. The New Jersey ruling applies only to biological fathers not married to the mother.

"Across the U.S., more than 40 percent of births are outside marriage."

The Newark Star-Ledger digs deep into the opinion, which was made public Monday. The paper reports that Superior Court Judge Sohail Mohammed writes that this is likely the first opinion of its kind in the United States.

Mohammed, the paper reports, based his opinion on two landmark Supreme Court cases — Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey -- related to abortion.

The paper explains:

"The high court established in those rulings that an expectant mother has a stronger right over her body and over her unborn child than the father. A court majority in Casey ruled that women are not even required to tell their spouses about abortions, Mohammed noted.

"The New Jersey Supreme Court has also struck down a law requiring that minors notify their parents before they get abortions, ruling in 2000 that the law infringed on those minors' privacy rights.

"In light of the court rulings, Mohammed wrote, it strains logic to ask a pregnant woman to notify the father when she goes into labor."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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