Oz rebuked for saying abortion decision should be up to “women, doctors and local political leaders”

Oz previously called abortion at any stage of pregnancy "murder"

Published October 26, 2022 10:58AM (EDT)

Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz (R) (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz (R) (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

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Republican U.S. Senate nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz said on the Pennsylvania debate stage Tuesday night that "local political leaders" have a role to play in abortion decisions, drawing swift condemnation from reproductive rights advocates and Democratic candidate John Fetterman, whose campaign is planning to run ads highlighting the comment.

"There should not be involvement from the federal government in how states decide their abortion decisions," Oz said when asked about his position on abortion, which has become a central midterm issue following the U.S. Supreme Court's June decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.

"I want women, doctors, local political leaders letting the democracy that's always allowed our nation to thrive to put the best ideas forward so states can decide for themselves," Oz added.

Asked specifically about whether he would support Sen. Lindsey Graham's, R-S.C., proposal to ban abortion nationwide after 15 weeks of pregnancy, Oz refused to provide a yes or no answer, reiterating that he opposes federal involvement.

"I'm not going to support federal rules that block the ability of states to do what they wish to do," said Oz, who has previously called abortion at any stage of pregnancy "murder."

Alexis McGill Johnson, the president of Planned Parenthood, responded that "no politician should make this decision. Period."

Fetterman, Pennsylvania's lieutenant governor, contrasted his stance with Oz's by stressing his support for codifying Roe v. Wade into federal law, something the currently razor-thin Democratic majority has repeatedly failed to do because of obstruction from right-wing members of the caucus.

"If you believe that the choice for abortion belongs between you and your doctor, that's what I fight for," Fetterman said in the first and only debate in the battleground race that could decide which party controls the Senate next year.

Fetterman's campaign wasted no time seizing on Dr. Oz's stated support for giving local politicians a say in reproductive health decisions, a view he expressed as Republican legislatures across the U.S. are imposing draconian abortion bans that are denying pregnant people basic healthcare.

In a statement following Tuesday's debate, Fetterman's campaign announced it will be unveiling an ad Wednesday that spotlights Oz's "radical, out-of-touch" comment.

"Our campaign will be putting money behind making sure as many women as possible hear Dr. Oz's radical belief that 'local political leaders' should have as much say over a woman's abortion decisions as women themselves and their doctors," said Joe Calvello, a spokesperson for the Fetterman campaign. "After months of trying to hide his extreme abortion position, Oz let it slip on the debate stage on Tuesday."

"Oz belongs nowhere near the U.S. Senate," Calvello added, "and suburban voters across Pennsylvania will see just how out-of-touch Oz is on this issue."

By Jake Johnson

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Abortion Common Dreams John Fetterman Mehmet Oz Partner Politics