WASHINGTON – Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., charged Tuesday that the battle over the morning-after pill was an attempt by the White House to inject politics into science.

Seeking to overcome opposition from the Democrats, Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, the Bush administration’s choice to head the Food and Drug Administration, pledged that his decisions would be guided by “medical ideology,” not “political ideology.” But Clinton and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said they would not lift their “hold” on his nomination.

Under Senate rules, any member can indefinitely block, or hold, a nomination.

The focus of the latest fight was the FDA’s sudden turnaround Monday that would allow the sale to women 18 and older, without prescription, of the so-called Plan B morning-after pill made by Duramed.

Planned Parenthood and other groups have argued that Plan B would cut unwanted pregnancies that lead to abortions, while conservative critics claim it would promote promiscuity.

At a Senate Health Committee hearing, Clinton praised von Eschenbach’s qualifications but told him he was caught up in a debate that has been turned into a political football. “Once we start politicizing the FDA, there is no stopping,” said Clinton, who challenged von Eschenbach’s claim that women younger than 18 might not use Plan B safely.

Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., the committee’s chairman, pleaded with colleagues to approve the nomination, but the hold remained in place.

while the FDA and the manufacturer work out procedures for the sale of Plan B.

But Clinton and Murray refused to budge until they review any FDA-Duramed agreement.



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