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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

April-11-00

Human Life International Feud Reveals Anti-Choice Infighting

A conflict between founder Rev. Paul Marx and new leader Rev. Richard Welch has cost Human Life International ("HLI) clout, and has revealed a deep conflict in the Orthodox Catholic anti-choice movement, and has not broken into public view with a major story in The Washington Post. The Kaiser Daily Health Report called the HLI argument an indication of widespread infighting and a lack of unity in the anti-choice movement. HLI itself has lost the support of The Wanderer, a right-wing Catholic newspaper, and reported a 28% decrease in donations since September. Some former supporters say they abandoned HLI when Welch "diluted [the group's] orthodox orientation by abandoning its hard-line stance against sex education." They have formed a "Donor Rights" group to lobby for the removal of Welch and claim Marx was ousted in a coup. Meanwhile, Marx was ordered back to his Benedictine Abbey in Minnesota and has been suspended from saying Mass "because he broke his vow of obedience" by continuing to attack HLI leadership.

Human Life International is a Roman Catholic non-profit organization that openly opposes "contraception, abortion, 'radical feminism,' and sex education in schools." Moreover Marx, its controversial founder, has been accused of being anti-Semitic; in a 1970s HLI newsletter, he urged his readers to note "'the large number of abortionists… and pro-abortion medical professors who are Jewish.'"

With abortion legal in the United States, despite increasing legal restrictions against a woman's right to choose, HLI has focused on an international campaign to limit women's access to reproductive health services and information. They and other anti-choice advocates, says The Washington Post, are turning to infighting in the face of the strength of the pro-choice movement.

Media Resources: The Washington Post - 11 April, 2000 and The Kaiser Daily Health Report - 11 April, 2000


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