Mehmet Oz says abortion should be decided between ‘women, doctors, local political leaders’

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Oz behind podium with Trump standing behind him
Mehmet Oz, who is running for the US Senate, speaks as former US President Donald Trump stands behind him during a campaign rally in support of Oz and Doug Mastriano for Governor of Pennsylvania at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on September 3, 2022.

  • Dr. Mehmet Oz and John Fetterman faced off in their first and only debate Tuesday night.
  • The candidates clashed on abortion, with Fetterman saying it should be a nationally protected right.
  • Oz said he does not support a federal ban but argued states should be able to prohibit the procedure.

In an echo of the language used by supporters of abortion rights, Dr. Mehmet Oz on Tuesday said he too believes the question of whether to terminate a pregnancy is best left to a woman and her doctor — but then he continued, adding a third party: state politicians.

In the first and only debate between Oz and his Democratic rival Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the celebrity doctor turned Republican candidate for Senate was asked to answer a question he’s previously evaded: Would he support a bill from South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham banning most abortion after 15 weeks?

Oz responded by saying that the federal government should not intervene “in how states decide their abortion decisions.”

Instead, Oz continued, he would leave the issue up to “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’s position on abortion has evolved over the years. In 2019, he defended Roe v. Wade, saying that as a physician he had personally witnessed women who suffered “really traumatic events” from undergoing illegal, “coat-hanger” abortions.” Running in the GOP primary, however, Oz pivoted to calling abortion “murder.” And on Tuesday, he argued his opponent would “allow abortion at 38 weeks, on the delivery table” (such abortions are usually a result of fetal abnormalities being detected or the need to protect the life of the mother; 99% of abortions occur before 21 weeks).

In Pennsylvania, Republican lawmakers are seeking to prohibit most abortions, with Doug Mastriano — the candidate for governor who Oz appeared with last month at a rally with former President Donald Trump — proposing a ban that would allow no exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother. Oz has said he supports including those exceptions, but the position he enunciated on Tuesday would mean allowing GOP-led states to decide otherwise.

Fetterman, by contrast, said he would support enshrining abortion rights in a federal law — and, in the meantime, providing federally assisted transportation so that people in states with current bans can access health care elsewhere.

“I want to look into the face of every woman in Pennsylvania. You know, if you believe that the choice of your reproductive freedom belongs with Dr. Oz, then you have a choice,” Fetterman said. “But if you believe that the choice for abortion belongs between you and your doctor, that’s what I’d fight for.”

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