Law, Emotions and Gendered Public Discourse: A Debate on Ban of Fathers’ Presence at Childbirth

In 2020, the Czech Government banned fathers’ presence at childbirth to contain the spread of COVID-19. The measure has sparked a media debate among legal experts and the public about human rights and women’s rights, highlighting the proportionality test as an objective expert tool to review the measure’s proportionality. Through an interpretive analysis of the debate, our paper identifies meanings and narratives to show how emotions and women’s rights are perceived by legal professionals when assessing the proportionality test. The paper argues that by excluding emotions from legally relevant argumentation, legal expertise questions the potential of the proportionality test to reach a legitimate conclusion as the interference with fundamental rights is related to emotional aspects of human integrity, autonomy, dignity, and other individual freedoms.