New Jersey Superior Court Judge Sohail Mohammed ruled that a woman has the right to privacy in the delivery room; specifically, that she has the right to the privacy of her medical records, procedures, complications, and/or any other medical information that may be disclosed in a delivery room with the father of the child present. She therefore has the right to disallow the presence of the father in the delivery room if she does not desire it. The Superior Court Judge ruled that the father’s presence may pose an “unwanted strain” on the mother, who is already deeply stressed during childbirth. He also ruled that a woman is not required to inform the father of the child when she is going into labor.
In response to this, news anchor and commentator Ana Kasparian reported that although the ruling makes sense in terms of the privacy of the mother, the father should have the right to know the child has been born and that he should be informed when the mother goes into labor. Kasparian maintained that the father should not be allowed in the delivery room against the desires of the mother. As to support her opinion, the anchor mentions that the father is likely expected to pay child support, and therefore has the right to see his child and experience “precious moments” with the child.
As unsurprising as it is that Kasparian would adopt this view, given her (notoriously misogynistic) audience–and the natural influence of any audience–it’s absurd that this perspective was upheld under her scrutiny. First of all, informing the father that the woman has gone into labor and informing him the child has been born are two different things. The former, pertaining to the medical state of a woman’s body, is still a violation of privacy. Second, child support is not a “token” a father pays for moments with the child. It is the financial support of a life because it exists. To believe there should be any kind of “return” for child support is ridiculous, and ultimately, unenforceable.
After all, who’s to say which moments are “precious,” and yes, while I concede that the birth of the child is hardly comparable to, say, the child’s swim competition, what if in the latter case it is the child who does not desire the presence of his or her father? Should the father be legally allowed to suspend his financial support? I doubt there is any rational man who would argue he should not be required to pay child support for a child who does not desire his/her father’s presence at the school swim competition, as precious a moment it is. He’d be laughed out of court.
And that sheds light on the real issue when it comes to child support and “men’s rights”–the men who are looking for ways to weasel out of it aren’t doing it because they are concerned about principle; what they are concerned about is revenge. They’re more likely to exact that revenge on a woman who doesn’t want to see them than a child who has the same wish. They view child support as something not received by the child, but received by the mother. Otherwise, it would be unthinkable to suspend financial support for a child when a woman refuses to allow the father in the delivery room, an act fully within her medical right. The real objective is to “punish” the mother for practicing this right. Those against the ruling are less interested in the effect this has on the child, the real receiving party, than in themselves as the injured party–but why would they be, when they are assured that the child will be supported regardless, by the woman herself? When a woman aborts her financial support by giving up a child to adoption (a right men have argued should be shared by them when the child is “adopted” by the mother exclusively) she often does so because there is no one else to help her support the child, and no one who will see to it that the child is supported no matter what. A man arguing that he should be able to see the child as long as he pays child support, as though child support is a “token” inserted into a slot of experiences, and not the lifeline of another very small human being, is able to do so when he is accustomed to a sense of entitlement that is sustained by his expectation that the child will be taken care of financially by the mother without his support, even if she struggles. He is assured of this, and takes advantage of the work being done either way, deciding that he’d rather “punish” the woman and make her struggle to accomplish it.
It’s nearly self-evident that these issues with child support in “men’s rights” are deeply personal ones that are championed by men wishing to bring them into the legal sphere where they have no place.