by Steven Ertelt
June 21, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Last week, a Senate committee approved the nomination of Lester Crawford to head the Food and Drug Administration. However, he is not likely to receive a floor vote because of senators on both sides of the abortion debate.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee approved Crawford’s nomination on a voice vote, but several senators have placed a hold on his nomination coming up for a vote in the full Senate.
Leading abortion advocates such as Sens. Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat, and Hillary Clinton, of New York, say they oppose his nomination because he hasn’t been forthright with them in saying when the agency will approve over the counter status for the Plan B morning after pill.
Although Republicans on the committee did not express any concerns about Crawford, who has been the acting commissioner, some members of the Senate are upset that the FDA has not pulled the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug from the market to review its safety following the death of a California teenager.
Sen. Tom Coburn, of Oklahoma and Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas say the FDA needs to respond to a citizens petition filed in 2002 asking it to prevent further sales of the mifepristone drug until it can be thoroughly checked out.
Mike Enzi, the Republican from Wyoming who heads the committee, told members to keep politics out of the decision-making process.
"Otherwise," he told the Washington Post, "I don’t think it’s possible for us to confirm any nominee to this position."
According to the Post, Crawford’s nomination was approved with Clinton, Murray and Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski dissenting. Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, the top Democrat on the panel, said he will vote to confirm Crawford.
Enzi and Kennedy said they were not sure if they would be able to find 60 votes to stop a filibuster.
The Plan B drugs are already available in the United States, but patients must first consult with a physician and receive a prescription for the pills. Barr Laboratories, the maker of the drug, wants to sell them over the counter to women 16 years or older.
In a hearing on his nomination, Crawford said the drug approval process had been delayed because of the complexity of the request. Drugs normally are approval for over the counter sale to all customers or not. Implementing the 16 year-old requirement has been complex, he explained.