To: All From: Coridon Henshaw Date: 12/16/94 13:32:22

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* From : Randy Edwards, 1:325/805 (Tuesday December 13 1994 20:29)

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From: Tom Burghardt <>



** Herr Kohl Selects a Minister for Women and the Family **

By Tom Burghardt,

Bay Area Coalition for Our Reproductive Rights (BACORR)

* * * * *

A recent news item in the SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER, caught my attention and deserves some comment. Helmut Kohl, Chancellor of the German Reich, selected Claudia Nolte, 28, to be the new cabinet minister for Women and the Family.

What makes Herr Kohl's selection for this ministerial post of interest is that Ms. Nolte is an ardent anti-abortion activist whose strident views place her "far to the right of most members of her party, including Chancellor Helmut Kohl."1

Ms. Nolte, a Catholic ideologue, believes that abortion is "always wrong," and that women who have had the procedure should be punished. Among other things, Minister Nolte believes that women should be forced to work in a hospital for a year to "make amends."2

Feminists and abortion rights activists in Germany, are incensed by Kohl's appointment of a political neophyte, selected solely on ideological grounds as a political pay-back to right wing Catholics. "It's a slap in the face for every woman in Germany," according to Alice Schwarzer, Germany's best-known feminist writer. Schwarzer comments, "There are plenty of very good experienced women in Kohl's party, but he's chosen a 28-year old who knows nothing about anything, a marionette under his control."3

Among Nolte's first official acts as cabinet minister, she decreed that the State would supply a $600 grant to mothers on the birth of a new baby.4 Feminists in Germany are angry at Nolte's actions, especially in the eastern sector where sky-high unemployment rates and the destruction of the extensive social benefits of the former Stalinist regime, are primarily shouldered by women.

"This mother-and-child policy," according to Alice Schwarzer, "is part of a long tradition here in Germany, a tradition which reached its zenith in the years between 1933 and 1945."5

The systematic roll-back of women's rights in the "new" Germany have been predicated on a policy of systematic de- industrialization in the East, coupled with increased attacks on the standard of living and political rights of the working class and immigrants throughout the country. The social and financial burden for "reunification" has been borne by those already reeling from economic "restructuring" and "the miracle of market reform."

Since 1990, women in the "new" Germany, especially in the bankrupt, former Stalinist state in the East, have seen their rights systematically undermined. The impressive social service infrastructure of the German Democratic Republic has been dismantled by the corrupt Treuhand Agency; the West German state development organization responsible for privatizing East German social property.

The result of on-going privatization has been nothing short of a disaster for working class women in the East. While the Stalinist state was politically repressive, it's system of socialized property did provide an impressive array of guaranteed social benefits for its citizens. All this changed, however, with "re-unification."

In place of free, universal education from kindergarten through post-graduate university studies; free child care; equal employment and equal pay opportunities; free birth control and abortion on demand, women have found themselves forced out of the work place and back into the home. The destruction and absorption of the Stalinist state by the new masters, West German capital, as in every other former "communist" country in Central Europe, including the ex-USSR, have resulted in a dramatic diminution of women's rights.

As in other Central European -- and North American -- countries, I might add, economic crisis, unemployment, lack of access to child care, medical care and educational opportunities have led to a dramatic rise of violence against women. Spousal battering, rape, homelessness, sexual blackmail by employers and other violent crimes against women, are at an all time high in Germany. Unemployment in the eastern zone exceeds 30% of the work force while on average, East German workers receive 40% less in wages than their West German counterparts.

The current abortion law in Germany is a backward step over guaranteed reproductive rights for women in the former German Democratic Republic. This law is up for renewal in 1995 and is a target for further attacks by the new minister for Women and the Family -- and the far-right. Current law allows German women an unrestricted right to an abortion within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Women, however, must first receive "counseling" before they are permitted by the State to obtain abortion services.

Last year however, the Supreme Court decreed that counselors must attempt to "persuade pregnant women to keep their babies and ordered legislators to draw up a new law to reflect this."6

Nolte is pushing for a total abortion ban, "without exceptions," even in cases of rape or incest. Ms. Nolte's strident views, and their growing acceptance as part of "mainstream" political discourse, are reflected by the resurgence of the German anti-abortion movement, particularly the group, Aktion Leben, modelled after North American organizations such as Joseph Scheidler's Pro-Life Action League, Flip Benham's Operation Rescue National and Donald Treshman's Rescue America.

_Anschluss_ with the west has also seen a dramatic resurgence of the neo-Nazi movement, as well as a re-organization and upsurge by far-right anti-abortionists. Anti-immigrant racism and murderous attacks on immigrants, have been the direct result of a carefully-crafted campaign by far-right political parties such as the Republikaners (REP) and the neo-fascist, Deutsche Volksunion (DVU). Both parties are staunchly anti- abortion.

The REP, with its 23,000 members, is led by former Nazi SS officer, Franz Schonhuber. Founded in 1983, the REP has a right- wing "populist" platform that calls for "law and order," "family values," and presents itself as a guardian against the "threat" to "German cultural homogeneity" posed by immigration and multiculturalism.7

The DVU, founded in 1971 by multi-millionaire Gerhard Frey, has some 24,000 members. Frey publishes several neo-fascist weekly newspapers with an estimated circulation of more than 100,000. The DVU promotes an undiluted form of Holocaust Revisionism, anti-Semitic and anti-Roma (Gypsy) racism, and calls for the expulsion of all "aliens" from Germany.8

Anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, anti-communist, anti-queer and misogynist pogroms by neo-Nazi skinhead gangs, many with ties to more "mainstream" political parties, have been aided by the cowardly betrayal of the "opposition" Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), the reorganized Stalinist Socialist Workers Party (SED). Their capitulation to Chancellor Kohl's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), over revisions to the right to political asylum has emboldened the far-right to step-up their attacks in other contentious social spheres such as abortion and queer rights.9

There is a little-known, but significant, international connection to current attacks on women's rights in Central Europe. Germany, as with other Central European countries, particularly Poland, Croatia, Romania and the ex-USSR, has received extensive ideological and technical support from American anti-abortion organizations. The far-right Catholic group, Human Life International (HLI), has become a pervasive presence.

Internationally, HLI claims the organization has established 53 branches in 39 countries.10 Branches exist across Europe; countries with HLI groups include: Austria; Belgium; Croatia; Czech Republic; Germany; Netherlands; Hungary; Ireland; Poland; Slovak Republic; Slovenia; Sweden; United Kingdom and Ukraine.11 In May 1994, HLI sponsored an anti-abortion conference in Moscow, "designed to secure an anti-abortion beachhead in Russia."12

Aktion Leben, the largest of Germany's anti-abortion groups, has received extensive coverage by American anti-abortionists' for their protests at American military bases which offer abortion services to military personnel and their dependents. Aktion Leben has collaborated extensively with the American group, Armed Forces for Life (AFOL), allied with Judie Brown's American Life League.13

Other American collaborators of Human Life International include Joseph Scheidler, an HLI Board Member and Director of Chicago's Pro-life Action League;14 John Cavanaugh-O'Keefe, former HLI Director of Publications, and current Director of the Pro-Life Nonviolent Action Project,15 and Notre Dame Law Professor, Charles Rice, listed as a "contributor" to THE NEW AMERICAN, the journal of the John Birch Society.16

Aktion Leben, as well as other extremist anti-abortion groups, have unsavory connections both to the German far-right -- and to Human Life International. Many of the organizations with the closet ties to HLI, are riddled with neo-Nazis, anti-Semitic Holocaust revisionists and racists.17 Such collaboration is hardly surprising or accidental. HLI founder, the Rev. Paul Marx, in his book, "Confessions of a Prolife Missionary," has

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