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Thompson Raises “Concerns” About Safety of RU-486; Bush Dismisses FDA Commissioner Henney

Secretary Designate Tommy Thompson’s anti-abortion/anti-women’s rights ideology came through loud and clear in his confirmation hearing before the Senate Heal, Education, Labor and Pension Committee. In the final question directed to Thompson, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) asked him whether he would “take any action to undo the FDA approval” of RU-486. In his response, Thompson stated: “I don’t intend to roll back anything unless it’s proven to be unsafe. Safety concerns are something that’s in question”

At the beginning of the hearing Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) expressed deep concerns about the immediate dismissal of FDA Commissioner Jane Henney. According to Mikulski, she had intended to give Thompson a letter asking that Henney be kept in her position, but she learned just minutes before the hearing that Henney had been dismissed and given 24 hours to vacate her office. Mikulski noted that RU-486 had been approved under Henney and expressed hopes that “Henney’s dismissal does not mark the beginning of a battleground and that the FDA will remain above politics. ” Committee Chair Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) echoed Mikulski’s concerns and said, “I think you will find she has broad support” from the industry. “It will be hard to replace her.”

After the hearing, Thompson was quoted by the Associated Press as declining to comment on his position on the use of federal funds to continue research with embryonic stem cells that may prove to be useful in fighting Parkinson’s and other diseases. According to Associated Press, Thompson said “That question didn’t come up and I’m not answering any questions until I’m confirmed.”

Sources:

Feminist Majority; AP

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