These days, nobody thinks twice about fathers being in the delivery room when their babies are born.
But it wasn’t always that way.
The change, as many social changes did, began in California in the 1960s and slowly spread across the country.
Owensboro-Daviess County Hospital — a forerunner to Owensboro Health Regional Hospital — was one of the last in the region to finally allow fathers to be present during birth.
The breakthrough began in June 1975, when Bob and Pam Kirtley asked the hospital board to allow him to be present when their child was born.
They had taken classes in Henderson to prepare for the birth.
But the board denied the request.
That sparked other couples who wanted the father to be present to begin asking “why not?”
In July that year, 40 parents met with the hospital board and medical staff asking — unsuccessfully — for a change in policy.
Hospitals in Evansville, Henderson and Louisville all allowed fathers in delivery rooms without problems.
But Owensboro argued that men might faint and get in the way.
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Out-of-town hospitals said they hadn’t had that problem.
So, on Sept. 22, 1975, the hospital board ended its policy of keeping fathers out, leaving the decision up to the doctors.
Doctors and patients should decide, the board said.
But it didn’t end there.
The staff continued to oppose the change.
All 10 obstetricians in town opposed it.
And the issue dragged on and on.
Finally, in January 1978, 2.5 years after the issue first surfaced, the medical staff approved allowing fathers in the delivery room.
And at 2:13 a.m. on Jan. 24, 1978, Will Storm became the first father in Owensboro to be present when his daughter, Maureen, was born.
Forty-five years later, people wonder what the controversy was all about.