The Rally Around Foster

DR. HENRY FOSTER -- President Clinton's nominee for Surgeon General -- has done some noteworthy work to prevent teen pregnancy.

And it has nothing to do with performing abortions or sterilizing severely retarded women.

This is the message the White House is trying to spread this week as it digs in to defend Dr. Foster's nomination.

Vice President Al Gore accompanied Foster to Nashville yesterday to attract attention to a program Foster founded there to steer young teens away from early parenthood.

White House strategists are seeking to move out of a defensive posture this week by drawing attention to Foster's merits. His programs have drawn praise in recent years from liberals and conservatives alike.

But his chances of confirmation declined last week to no better than 50 percent, after the focus on abortions he had performed was diverted by his changing count of the operations. Hysterectomies he performed on retarded women also brought fire, although he discontinued that practice decades ago.

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