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NJ court ruling blocking newborn’s dad from delivery room is first in nation
By Salvador Rizzo/The Star-Ledger
TRENTON — A woman preparing to give birth can bar the father of their child from entering the delivery room, a New Jersey judge has ruled in one of the first cases of its kind nationwide.
The ruling settled a legal dispute that was argued the very day the woman gave birth. Superior Court Judge Sohail Mohammed said all patients — and pregnant women especially — enjoy strong privacy protections that let them decide who can be at their hospital bedside.
Fathers, on the other hand, have no established legal right to be present at the birth of their children, the judge wrote.
“Any interest a father has before the child’s birth is subordinate to the mother’s interests,” Mohammed wrote. “Even when there is no doubt that a father has shown deep and proper concern and interest in the growth and development of the fetus, the mother is the one who must carry it to term.”
The prenatal court battle played out in Passaic County last year and appears to have been the first of its kind in the nation, Mohammed wrote. Disputes between two unwed parents over who can be present at the child’s birth “have never been litigated in New Jersey or the United States,” he wrote.
It began after Rebecca DeLuccia and Steven Plotnick conceived a child, got engaged, and later called off the wedding in 2013.
“They were estranged from one another at the time delivery was approaching, for quite some time,” said DeLuccia’s attorney, Joanna Brick. “They weren’t communicating more than a little text here or there, ‘Are you alive?’ That kind of thing.”
Plotnick sued to get DeLuccia to inform him when she went into labor, and to grant him access to the baby at the hospital upon birth.
A court hearing was held the same day DeLuccia went into labor and delivered a girl, Brick said, with the mother participating in oral arguments via telephone conference from the delivery room. “The intensity was at a 20,” Brick recalled.
Mohammed ruled for DeLuccia that day — Nov. 19. His written decision was released Monday.
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