Both Kathy Barnette and David McCormick referred to a 2019 interview, where the celebrity surgeon said he did not want anyone in his family having an abortion.
Heading into Wednesday’s GOP Senate debate, the Republican candidates running for Pennsylvania’s open US Senate seat seemed very much on the same page regarding abortion.
The six self-described “pro-life” candidates who participated in the Newsmax-sponsored debate held at the private Christian school, Grove City College in northwestern Pennsylvania all endorsed overturning Roe v. Wade. They were all vague when asked if they supported any exceptions for abortion or if their opinions have changed over the years.
On the debate stage, the talk turned to comments candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz made during an interview on a New York radio show in 2019.
During an appearance on “The Breakfast Club” morning show, Oz said most people support the standard set by Roe v. Wade that bans abortion after the fetus is viable outside the womb, around 24 weeks of pregnancy.
In the interview, Oz said he did not want anyone in his family having an abortion and seemed to criticize the idea of banning abortion just because a heartbeat is detected — which usually happens at around six weeks of pregnancy. The Donald Trump-endorsed candidate also suggested that states that do ban abortion will see businesses move operations elsewhere.
Oz brushed the interview aside at Wednesday’s debate, insisting he is pro-life. He employed the “life starts at conception” talking point, describing his experience as a heart surgeon operating on small children. He also pointed to the endorsement of his mother-in-law, an ordained minister who he claimed authored pro-life literature she distributed in Montgomery County.
Hedge fund CEO David McCormick and conservative activist Kathy Barnette both seized upon Oz’s comments from the 2019 radio interview, and called his responses at the debate inadequate.
Barnette’s umbrage with Oz on the abortion topic was personal, as she described being the byproduct of rape when her mother was 11.
“I was not just a lump of cells,” Barnette said. “As you can see, I’m still not just a lump of cells.”
Oz is endorsed by Donald Trump and is attending a rally with the former president in western Pennsylvania on Friday.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.