Foster To Advise White House on Teen Pregnancy, Youth Issues

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A week after announcing a private-sector campaign to curb teenage pregnancy, President Clinton last week named Dr. Henry Foster, his unsuccessful nominee for surgeon general last year, to be an unpaid White House adviser on teen pregnancy and youth issues.

Dr. Foster, who assumed the post last week, will also advise Dr. David Satcher, the director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna E. Shalala.

He will serve as a liaison to the private pregnancy-reduction campaign, which is being spearheaded by the Urban Institute, a liberal think tank here. But his White House appointment is separate from that effort, which was touted in Mr. Clinton's State of the Union Address last month. (See Education Week, Jan. 31, 1996.)

In addition to bringing national attention to the issue of teen pregnancy and working with activists at the local level, the White House said, Dr. Foster will meet with leaders in business, the media, and other fields "to mobilize and intensify their interest and efforts in this area."

Dr. Foster's expenses will be paid from existing accounts at the Department of Health and Human Services, where he will maintain an office and draw on the agency's support staff, White House spokes-man Michael D. McCurry said.

Dr. Foster will work part time in the volunteer post. He will keep his faculty position at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn., where he is a professor of obstetrics and gynecology.

The nomination of Dr. Foster to replace Dr. Joycelyn Elders as the surgeon general fell apart last year after critics attacked him for having performed abortions.

Last week, Dr. Foster's new appointment drew criticism from the National Right to Life Committee, a leading anti-abortion group, and the Family Research Council, a conservative think tank, both based in Washington.

The White House has said that President Clinton has no plans to make another nomination for surgeon general.

A Fledgling Campaign

Meanwhile, the Urban Institute is trying to get its "National Campaign To Reduce Teenage Pregnancy" off the ground.

While Mr. Clinton announced the start of the program last month, it has not yet moved beyond the planning stages, Isabel V. Sawhill, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, said last week.

Ms. Sawhill, who is volunteering her time as the unofficial coordinator of the new campaign, said its official launch would probably come next month, after the first meeting of its board.

The campaign's goal is to reduce the teenage-pregnancy rate by one-third by 2005. It aims to attract interest to the topic, support state and local activities, and enlist the help of the media.

It is an outgrowth of a challenge to combat teenage pregnancy that Mr. Clinton issued in his 1995 State of the Union Address, said Ms. Sawhill, who has served in the administration as an associate director of the Office of Management and Budget. Administration officials held meetings on the topic last year, she said, and she agreed in October to direct the effort.

The campaign currently has no long-term funding, but it has received $80,000 in planning grants from several philanthropies.

Vol. 15, Issue 20

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