- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was treated to both heckles and cheers yesterday by liberal activists in a mixed day for the New York Democrat on the campaign trail.

Yesterday morning, Mrs. Clinton spoke at the “Take Back America” conference, held at the Washington Hilton. Protesters upset with Mrs. Clinton’s vote to authorize the Iraq war in 2002 stood outside the hotel with a sign that read, “It takes one bomb to raze a village.”

Before Mrs. Clinton arrived, event organizer Robert Borosage asked the crowd to be respectful toward her and the other speakers, saying, “We owe them our courteous attention.”

Mrs. Clinton took the stage to a standing ovation with only a few scattered boos from the crowd. However, when she said that “it is not a smart strategy” to set a deadline for withdrawal of troops from Iraq, Mrs. Clinton was loudly booed by the audience. At the end of her speech, the crowd began to chant, “Bring them home.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. John Kerry followed Mrs. Clinton and were treated to enthusiastic applause in their calls for an immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.

“Have you had enough of a war that is failing to make America secure?” Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, asked the crowd.

The bulk of Mr. Kerry’s speech dealt with Iraq, including the announcement of his intention to introduce legislation in the Senate this week calling for an up-or-down vote on troop withdrawal.

“A war in Iraq founded on a lie can never be true to America’s character,” said Mr. Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat.

Mrs. Clinton received a warmer response later in the day when she promised a group of pro-choice activists that she would continue blocking Senate confirmation of President Bush’s nominee for Food and Drug Administration commissioner in protest of the FDA’s failure to make a decision on over-the-counter sales of Plan B emergency contraception.

Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach was nominated to the post in March, but Mrs. Clinton and Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, have placed a hold on his nomination.

“We will continue to hold that nomination until the FDA issues a decision on Plan B: yes or no,” Mrs. Clinton told the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association.

“The FDA’s 2004 decision not to approve over-the-counter sales was politically motivated,” Mrs. Clinton said, while accepting the group’s public-service award at yesterday’s luncheon. “Increasingly, I see Washington being turned into an evidence-free zone where inconvenient facts are totally denied or dismissed … where the beliefs and values of Americans take a back seat to the ideological agenda of a select few.”

However, it was revealed this week that the FDA’s former chief told a court under oath that his agency intended to allow over-the-counter sales of Plan B last year, but delayed the move while determining how to limit those sales to adolescents.

Former FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford said he had reserved the right to decide whether to loosen the sales restrictions, but he said his Aug. 26 announcement was to work out how to enforce restricting nonprescription sales to women 17 and older. Girls 16 and younger still would need a prescription.

“There was no — no talk of denial, there was talk of trying to get straight what the enforcement procedures would be,” Mr. Crawford testified in a May 24 sworn deposition in a lawsuit against the FDA.

The transcript of his testimony was released late Monday by the Center for Reproductive Rights, which has sued to force the agency to allow over-the-counter sales for all ages.

Mrs. Clinton also used her luncheon speech luncheon to push for two related measures in the Senate.

The Unintended Pregnancy Reduction Act would expand Medicaid coverage of “family-planning services,” Mrs. Clinton said, while the Prevention First Act would require health insurance coverage for contraception and require federally funded hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims. Some Catholic hospitals do not provide such contraception, which they view as inducing abortions.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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