Conservatives irate over Clinton nominee’s views.

In 1981, conservative Christian groups pressed hard in favor of President Reagan’s surgeon general nominee, C. Everett Koop, whose prolife stand on abortion had raised concern among liberal senators.

This summer, the tables have been turned as conservative Christian groups worked against President Clinton’s choice of Joycelyn Elders to be the next surgeon general. The conservative coalition of religious groups, including many evangelicals, cited Elders’s aggressive stand in favor of abortion rights, as well as her support of early sex education and in-school condom distribution.

Elders, a United Methodist laywoman, was director of the Arkansas Department of Health. Like Koop, she is a pediatrician. But her bent for blunt talk has offended conservative Christians, prolifers, and profamily groups. In public settings she has admonished prolifers to “get over their love affair with the fetus.” She has accused abortion opponents of “only loving little children as long as they are in someone else’s uterus.” She has said that the prolife movement is being energized by “a celibate, male-dominated church.” And she has written that “most of our society believes that a baby is God’s just punishment for fornication.”

At a July Capitol Hill press conference, Family Research Council vice-president Kay James took issue with Elders’s statements and her policies. “America does not need a surgeon general who throws in the towel from the bully pulpit of our nation’s highest public health official,” James said. Other groups raising concerns about Elders include Concerned Women for America, the American Family Association, the Christian Coalition, the Traditional Values Coalition, the Southern Baptist ...

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