ICBioethics Blog 

How Does One Balance the Maternal and Paternal Rights?

Written by: Leah Jeunnette, Ph.D.(c)

Parental rights of both mothers and fathers are getting more complicated with more legal implications than ever before. From the changes in sperm donor rights to the rights of fathers in the delivery room, parental rights are constantly adjusting to new circumstances.  This important question begs for an answer: how does one balance paternal rights with maternal rights? Currently, legal rulings have favored maternal rights. While courts may recognize paternal rights, maternal rights often trump them in legal cases.

Most recently, a New Jersey judge sided with a pregnant woman to prevent the father of her child from being in the delivery room. This judge recognized the woman’s legal right to privacy. The father says he was told he did not even have a right to know when the baby was born. So then, what are a father’s rights? Does he have a right to see the child, but only if and when he has been informed that the child was born? Does he have a say in the medical care once the child is born?  Legal precedent has established over and over paternal requirements to pay child support, thus acknowledging a father’s responsibilities. But what about a father’s rights?

I think it’s important to define and clearly delineate all possible rights for both sides. Parent gender should never be the leading factor in this balance of power and rights. Instead, the baby’s best interests and the principles that guide this determination should be at the forefront of these decisions.

Mitch GennusoComment