Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach appeared in front of the House Appropriations Subcommittee yesterday, claiming that no decision had been made regarding the alleged budget cut for the Office of Women’s Health. An unnamed, high level official told the Washington Post earlier this week that the FDA intended to withhold $1.2 million of the Office of Women’s Health annual $4 million budget, effectively halting any further projects in 2007. Von Eschenbach’s comments did not offer a clear answer if the funds would indeed be withheld, but he maintained that such a budget cut would not have a negative impact on the office, saying, “There is absolutely no reduction or diminishing of the agency’s commitment to women’s health. I’m not downsizing the Office of Women’s Health. I’m not saying there won’t be a reduction… but it’s not to be viewed as a reduction of our commitment to women’s health,” according to the Kaiser Daily Women’s Health Policy Report.
Women’s advocates have voiced their concerns about the ramifications of the possible budget cut. Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) sent a letter to von Eschenbach demanding that the Women’s Health Office be fully funded in order to function successfully, Reuters reports. The senators asked for a full explanation as to where the funds would be appropriated and pledged to work towards preventing the budget cut.