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Senate Confirms Dr. Elders

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WASHINGTON--In a victory for President Clinton, the Senate last week confirmed Dr. Joycelyn Elders to be Surgeon General, putting an end to an often heated, partisan battle over the controversial former Arkansas health director.

The Senate voted 65 to 34 to approve Dr. Elders, who has been both praised and criticized for her impassioned views on abortion rights, sex education, and condom distribution in schools.

The daylong debate leading up to the final vote on the Senate floor last week was punctuated by emotional descriptions of Dr. Elders as a tireless crusader.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., a leading supporter, called her "a leader and a woman who goes beyond rhetoric and gets results.''

Other senators reiterated their concerns about Dr. Elders's opinions and health-care strategies.

Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla., who led the opposition, said Dr. Elders has a "radical and extreme'' agenda in sex education that will cause "real problems'' in the schools.''

Opponents succeeded last month in delaying a vote on the nomination in order to investigate allegations about financial misconduct. (See Education Week, Aug. 4, 1993.)

But critics failed to generate enough opposition to Dr. Elders during Congress's August recess to derail her nomination.

Dr. Elders, who was sworn in at a private White House ceremony last week, named as a priority educating all Americans on how to stay healthy.

In a statement following her confirmation, Dr. Elders said: "It is time to look forward--not back--to a time when all American children are planned and wanted, when all American children are immunized, and when all dread diseases are a distant and haunting memory.''--J.P.

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