Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Foster Exposes Big-Tent Myth

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Foster Exposes Big-Tent Myth

Article excerpt

SOMETHING SINISTER is going on in Washington.

That in itself is probably not surprising. Seems something sinister's always going on in Washington.

But this seems more sinister than most. It looks as if a perfectly fine nominee for surgeon general is about to get the shaft because of the efforts of some right-wing zealots.

By all accounts, Dr. Henry Foster Jr. would seem to be a good choice for surgeon general. He has a wealth of experience.

He's a former dean and acting president of Meharry Medical College in Nashville. He founded Meharry's "I Have a Future" program. It's designed to delay sexual activity among teen-agers by building their self-esteem, developing job skills, teaching sexual responsibility, self-control and abstinence. The program was named a "Point of Light" by President George Bush. President Bill Clinton has said that he wants Foster to lead a campaign to sharply reduce teen pregnancies.

Foster has 38 years of practice under his belt. His nomination has been praised by the American Medical Association, Planned Parenthood and Dr. Louis Sullivan, director of Health and Human Services under President George Bush. He's also received the backing of Tennessee Republican Sen. Bill Frist, though Frist has been wavering in that support in recent days. That sort of backing would seem to say a great deal about Foster. But it's not enough - or perhaps too much - for the zealots. His support by Planned Parenthood makes some anti-abortionists see red. And instead of looking at his nomination rationally, some are actually dismissing Foster as "Elders lite," a reference to the recently ousted and controversial surgeon general, Joycelyn Elders.

In revised numbers, Foster says that he performed 39 abortions in his career. Most of those, he said, were performed in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother. "I abhor abortions . . . . To me, abortion is failure; I don't like failure," Foster said in an interview on ABC's "Nightline" this week.

That seems to make no difference to the zealots, who seem to care only that he performed abortions. I wonder how many Americans would be willing to have a baby who was the result of a rape. …

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