Senator Says HHS Secretary Lied About Morning After Pill

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 15, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senator Says HHS Secretary Lied About Morning After Pill Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 15, 2005

Washington, DC ( — A leading abortion advocate has taken her opposition to the FDA’s decision to postpone approving selling the morning after pill over the counter one step further. Washington state Democrat Patty Murray now says Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt "lied" when he said the FDA would make a decision.

Murray tells McClatchy Newspapers that in 14 years in the Senate she has never had a cabinet secretary act the way Leavitt has.

"This is a blatant slap in the face," Murray said in an interview. "I’ve never had a handshake deal and a signed letter in which they lied."

Murray and pro-abortion Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York had placed a hold on the confirmation of Lester Crawford to head the Food and Drug Administration, but the pair lifted their hold after Leavitt promised the FDA would make a final decision on the Plan B pill.

Leavitt said he promised the FDA would decide and called the decision to study the issue further one that kept his promise and a "step forward" in determining the best course of action.

"Sometimes action isn’t always yes and no," Leavitt said. "Sometimes it requires additional thought."

The FDA had been considering whether or not to approve a request by Barr Laboratories to sell the sometimes abortion-causing drug without a doctor’s visit. Barr originally applied to sell it to all women, which the FDA rejected, and revised its proposal to sell the drug only to women above the age of 16.

However, the FDA said that would be difficult to implement and, Crawford, who is acting Commissioner, said the agency needed to examine the request further because it would set so many regulatory precedents.

"These are profound regulatory decisions that cut to the heart of our work," Crawford explained at the time. "The answers to these questions can establish very broad and far-reaching policies that could have a significant effect on the way FDA regulates many different drugs."

Crawford also said the agency would accept public comment over the course of 60 days.

Murray says that means the decision on the morning after pill sales is a political one.

"I was floored when they broke their word," she told McClatchy Newspapers. "It’s unbelievable they would seek public comment. Their (the FDA’s) decisions have always been scientifically based. Soliciting public comment to me means it is political."