Daycare turns women into "birthing machines": German bishop

German Bishop Walter Mixa has caused a storm with comments condemning a government plan to expand childcare facilities as degrading women and turning them into "birthing machines" who quickly have to return to work.

Deutsche Welle reports that the bishop of Augsburg's comments have even conservatives up in arms.

Describing government proposals to expand childcare facilities in Germany "harmful for children and families", Bishop Mixa said the plans enticed women with federal aid to entrust their children to state care shortly after birth, degrading women to "birthing machines."

Germany's Minister for Family and Youth, Ursula von der Leyen from the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) wants to significantly increase to 750,000 the number of places available at day-care centers for children under the age of three by 2013.

It is the latest step in an attempt to boost the German birthrate, which at 1.36 children per woman is one of the lowest in Europe.

But Mixa said von der Leyen's plans gave "top priority to recruiting young women as labor reserve for private industry."

"We need to create family-oriented jobs, not job-friendly families," Mixa told German breakfast television on Friday.

The minister's family policies elevated double-income marriages to a downright "ideological fetish," Mixa said.

Minister Von der Leyen, who is herself a mother of seven, said early learning in daycare facilities by professional educators was beneficial for young children.

But Bishop Mixa argued that the "real professionals" were a child's parents, especially the mother. The Catholic Bishop made no mention of the role of the father in his controversial comments.

Politicians from across the political spectrum - including the Christian Democrats - criticised Mixa's remarks. Christel Humme, the family policy spokeswoman of the Social Democrats, said childcare was no "work of the devil."

According to Deutsche Welle only Cologne Cardinal Joachim Meisner said he agreed with Mixa.

"In the bible, nurseries are actually just a temporary solution," Meisner told the Catholic radio station Domradio. "If you turn it into a permanent institution, quasi as an alternative to the family, then this is a misguided development." He said daycare was only necessary for emergencies and exceptional cases.

But Mainz Cardinal Karl Lehman said he supported the government's plans to improve daycare options and choice for parents.

German Bishop Slammed For Calling Women "Birthing Machines" (Duetsche Welle, 24/2/07)

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Bishop Walter Mixa (Catholic Hierarchy)

26 Feb 2007

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