The Republican Senate nominee in Pennsylvania made the comment at a Tuesday night debate against Democratic nominee Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.
Mehmet Oz, the Republican nominee for the open U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania, said on Tuesday night during a debate with his Democratic opponent, the state's Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, that decisions about abortion should be made by "women, doctors, local political leaders."
"There should not be involvement from the federal government in how states decide their abortion decisions. As a physician, I've been in the room when there's some difficult conversations happening. I don't want the federal government involved with that at all," Oz said. "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."
The issue of abortion is one that Republicans have been pressed to address in midterm election campaigns since the Supreme Court's reversal of the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade that affirmed the constitutional right to an abortion in the United States. After the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization in June, GOP-led states began to pass laws banning the procedure; in Alabama, for example, abortion has been banned in all circumstances except when the life of the pregnant person is at risk.
In Pennsylvania, abortion has been a major issue in the midterm elections. Abortions are currently legal in the state; however, GOP gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano has said he would ban abortions as early as six weeks' gestation, before many people even know they are pregnant.
That position, however, is not popular in Pennsylvania. A Franklin and Marshall poll from August found nearly 90% of registered voters believe abortion should be legal to at least some degree.
Fetterman said during the debate that he believes abortion should be a "universal right for all women in America" and promised to vote to codify abortion rights at the federal level if he is elected to the Senate.
"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 fight for."
After the debate, Fetterman's campaign immediately seized on Oz's remarks, saying it would be putting them in political ads.
"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," Joe Calvello, a spokesman for Fetterman's campaign, said in a statement. "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, and suburban voters across Pennsylvania will see just how out-of-touch Oz is on this issue."
Republicans, who need to pick up just one seat to win control of the Senate in November, are hoping to keep the Pennsylvania seat, which is currently held by retiring GOP Sen. Pat Toomey.
Fetterman, however, has had a consistent lead throughout the contest, though it has narrowed in recent days. Fetterman currently leads the FiveThirtyEight polling average by 2.3%.
Inside Elections, the nonpartisan political handicapping outlet, rates the race a toss-up.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.