Republican Mehmet Oz speaks during the U.S. Senate debate on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022. (Gregory Nash/WHTM Television)
In the days after Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate debate, Democrats, stumping for their party’s nominee John Fetterman, have focused their attacks on Republican Mehmet Oz’s response to a question about his abortion policies.
Asked how he would vote on a proposed national 15-week abortion ban, the celebrity heart surgeon said he opposes the federal government dictating abortion policies, adding that authority should rest with women, their physicians, and local politicians.
“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 said.
Since Tuesday’s one-hour televised forum, Democrats — including Fetterman — have highlighted the response, arguing that Oz wants lawmakers to have a say over patients’ bodily autonomy and stressing how the high-stakes election could determine abortion access in Pennsylvania and nationwide.
U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-4th District, argued that keeping the decision local means keeping it between women and their doctors.
“I have no business being at your doctor’s appointments for you,” Scranton Mayor Paige Cognetti, a Democrat, said during a virtual press conference on Thursday, adding that politicians should be partners. “Even if we’re elected leaders, we need to be understanding of what people are going through, what their healthcare challenges are, what their pregnancy journeys are — and what sometimes they aren’t.”
Oz has described himself as “strongly pro-life,” saying he supports exceptions for rape, incest, or if the mother’s life is at risk. However, he faced criticism after audio from a tele-town hall resurfaced and fueled questions about where he stands on abortion access. In the recording, first reported by The Daily Beast, Oz said: “Life starts at conception.”
On Wednesday, the Fetterman campaign released an advertisement saying Oz would “let local politicians like Doug Mastriano,” the anti-abortion Republican gubernatorial nominee, enact a total abortion ban.
Fetterman supports codifying Roe v. Wade into law, saying on Tuesday that he would use federal funds to transport people seeking an abortion from states with strict restrictions on the procedure to states where it’s legal to receive care.
Sen. Amanda Cappelletti, D-Delaware, who has talked openly about her miscarriages, told reporters that after hearing Oz’s answer, she thought: “Who do I want in that room with me making a decision?”
“I don’t need anybody who is not privy to my medical information,” Cappelletti said, announcing that she is 20 weeks pregnant.
The Democratic lawmakers said that abortion is one of the top issues they hear about from voters, especially while door-knocking ahead of the Nov. 8 election.
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