FILE - Mehmet Oz, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, takes part in a Republican Jewish Coalition event in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022. If Dr. Mehmet Oz is elected to the U.S. Senate this fall, he'll be the first Muslim to serve in the chamber. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File) Mehmet Oz
FILE - Mehmet Oz, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, takes part in a Republican Jewish Coalition event in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022. If Dr. Mehmet Oz is elected to the U.S. Senate this fall, he'll be the first Muslim to serve in the chamber. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

In newly-leaked audio from a campaign event in May, the Republican nominee for US Senate in Pennsylvania, Dr. Mehmet Oz, claimed that abortion was “murder” at any stage of pregnancy, a statement that could put him at odds with Pennsylvania voters.

An overwhelming majority of Pennsylvanians support reproductive freedom and believe abortion should be legal in some form, but newly released audio of Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz features the Hollywood doctor comparing abortion to murder.

The audio, from a campaign event in May, shows Oz telling voters that he thinks abortion at any stage of development—including from the moment of conception—is “murder.”

“I do believe life starts at conception, and I’ve said that multiple times,” Oz said. “If life starts at conception, why do you care what age the heart starts beating at? It’s, you know, it’s still murder, if you were to terminate a [fetus] whether their heart’s beating or not.”

Oz’s comments, which were first reported by the Daily Beast on Wednesday, came after an attendee asked about Oz’s position on abortion and “why someone who’s pro-life should vote for you.”

Oz, who faces off against pro-reproductive rights Democrat John Fetterman in November, has said he’s “100% pro-life” and supports the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Roe v. Wade in June.

That ruling, which ripped reproductive freedom away from tens of millions of American women, has led to one horror story after another as extreme and vaguely-worded state abortion bans have led pregnant women and girls to endure unthinkable trauma. 

Despite these developments—which, in 2019, Dr. Oz predicted would happen if Roe were struck down—candidate Oz has maintained his opposition to women’s reproductive freedom, only supporting exceptions in cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother. 

The newly-published audio, however, suggests the candidate’s position might be even more extreme—a notable flip-flop from 2019, when Oz defended legal abortion access during an appearance on “The Breakfast Club” morning show.

During that interview, Oz said he was personally opposed to abortion but didn’t want to interfere with other people’s decisions to get an abortion. He also said he was “really worried” about the consequences for women’s health if Roe were struck down, acknowledged that “the heart’s not beating” six weeks into a pregnancy, and stated that the idea that life begins at conception—which candidate Oz now professes—didn’t make sense. 

“Just being logical about it,” Oz said in 2019, “if you think that the moment of conception you’ve got a life, then why would you even wait six weeks? Right, then an in vitro fertilized egg is still a life.”

Abortion remains legal in Pennsylvania, but Republicans in the state legislature–including the party’s nominee for governor, Doug Mastriano–are pushing for an amendment to the state’s constitution to ban abortion in the commonwealth and rip reproductive rights away from millions of Pennsylvania women. 

Some national Republicans and anti-abortion groups have also endorsed a nationwide ban on abortion. If Oz were elected, he could be a key vote if such a bill were to come to the Senate floor. 

The Oz campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Fetterman spokesperson Emilia Winter Rowland blasted Oz’s comments.

“Dr. Oz is wildly out of touch with the people of Pennsylvania who support abortion rights,” Rowland said in a statement to The Keystone. “If he’s elected, he will be a rubber stamp to criminalize abortion, appoint justices even more radical than today’s, and send doctors, nurses, and patients to jail.”