Senate Republicans predicted trouble for President Clinton's surgeon general nominee Sunday, and chastised the White House for not telling Congress sooner that the doctor performed abortions.

"Will it be in some difficulty? Yes," Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole said, when asked about the nomination of Dr. Henry Foster Jr., 61."I do think it is in serious trouble," Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., said in a separate interview.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said on CNN's "Late Edition" that the nomination is in trouble "to a degree, but I don't think it's fair to judge him until he has a chance to testify, and I suspect that he'll come off pretty well."

The Tennessee gynecologist-obstetrician came to Clinton's attention through a teen-age pregnancy program he founded in Nashville's housing developments. It urges teenagers to delay sexual activity by building their self-esteem, and does not provide abortions.

After Foster's selection was announced last week, the White House revealed that he performed fewer than a dozen hospital abortions, mostly to save the mother's life or in cases of rape or incest. An unspecified number apparently were elective abortions.

White House spokeswoman Dawn Alexander said Sunday that Clinton knew about the abortions before the nomination and "thinks Doctor Foster's enormously impressive history will stand him well in the confirmation process."

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., issued a statement in support of Foster, denouncing suggestions that performing abortions should disqualify him. "The majority of Americans who are pro-choice will not allow a narrow band of extremist special interest groups to derail this nomination," she said.

Despite White House efforts to focus on the 10,000 babies he delivered and his teen-age pregnancy program, conservatives and anti-abortion groups are mounting an aggressive campaign against Foster.

Dole, who hopes to shore up support from conservatives in his own party for the 1996 presidential race, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he had not decided whether to oppose the nomination, which must be confirmed by the Senate.

"I'm not certain," he said. "I don't like what I hear, what I read."

Dole echoed complaints from other GOP lawmakers last week, who said the White House was not forthcoming about Foster's abortions.

"I'm ... troubled by the fact that we were not given that information before the nomination was sent up," Dole said.

Dole said he wants to review Foster's record carefully before passing judgment. "My view is we shouldn't shoot down somebody before he's even had a hearing," he said.

On teen-age pregnancy, Dole said Foster has "done a lot of good things."

But conservatives are also miffed about Foster's long ties to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the fact that his teen-age pregnancy program dispenses contraceptives.

"There's more than just the abortion question. There are other questions - maybe what he has advocated or participated in with the Planned Parenthood," Lott told CBS's "Face the Nation." But the senator said he was not prepared to recommend Foster's withdrawal.

Foster's selection was endorsed last week by the American Medical Association, the director of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Louis Sullivan, secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bush.