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Republican U.S. Senate nominee Mehmet Oz speaks as former U.S. President Donald Trump stands behind him during a campaign rally at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on September 3, 2022.

Republican U.S. Senate nominee Mehmet Oz speaks as former U.S. President Donald Trump stands behind him during a campaign rally at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on September 3, 2022. (Photo: Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images)

'A Simple Yes or No': Fetterman Demands Oz Share Position on GOP's Federal Abortion Ban

"The people of Pennsylvania deserve to know how Oz would vote on this bill if he were in the U.S. Senate."

Kenny Stancil

Moments after Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina introduced legislation Tuesday that would prohibit abortion nationwide after 15 weeks of pregnancy, the campaign of Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman—the Democratic nominee for the key battleground state's open U.S. Senate seat—challenged Dr. Mehmet Oz, his GOP opponent, to clarify where he stands on reproductive freedom.

"Republicans are running on a national abortion ban in these midterms."

"Would you vote for Sen. Graham's bill to ban abortions after 15 weeks?" Fetterman spokesperson Joe Calvello asked Oz, a super-wealthy, right-wing celebrity television doctor backed by former President Donald Trump. "It's a simple yes or no question."

"'It should be left to the states' is not a real answer," Calvello added, preemptively shutting down what has become Republicans' typical response on the campaign trail since the U.S. Supreme Court's reactionary majority eliminated the constitutional right to abortion earlier this summer. GOP candidates' standard retort looks increasingly deceptive now that Graham has once again proposed a federal abortion ban.

"The people of Pennsylvania deserve to know how Oz would vote on this bill if he were in the U.S. Senate," said Calvello. "They deserve to know where he stands when it comes to an issue as fundamental as reproductive rights."

"John Fetterman's position on this issue is crystal clear," he continued. "John believes abortion is a decision that should only be made by a woman and her doctor, not politicians in Washington. In the Senate, he will proudly cast the 51st vote to scrap the filibuster and codify Roe v. Wade into law."

Oz did issue a statement after Graham unveiled his proposal to outlaw abortion throughout the U.S. after 15 weeks of pregnancy. But he refused to take a position on the bill, saying that he would "want to make sure that the federal government is not involved in interfering with the state's decisions on the topic."

In response, Fetterman said that "a federal abortion ban would sure seem to interfere with a state's decision on the topic of abortion."

"When you're a senator, you actually have to take positions," said Fetterman. "You have to take votes—sometimes hard votes."

"Everything is on the line this November."

"This isn't some TV show," he continued. "This matters. These are people's lives."

"Dr. Oz and his team need to stop the spin and stop the bullshit," Fetterman added. "This is a bill that he would actually have to vote on. Oz needs to tell us—yes or no, would you support this bill?"

Fetterman offered to "help him out and go first: I'm a HELL NO."

In a statement, Indivisible's national political director Dani Negrete said that "we would like to thank Sen. Graham for making it crystal clear to voters today that Republicans are running on a national abortion ban in these midterms."

"It's telling that even as MAGA candidates in competitive races like Blake Masters and Mehmet Oz are trying to hide their extreme positions on abortion, Republicans in Congress are already moving ahead with legislation that would restrict freedoms in all fifty states and cost untold lives," said Negrete.

"If Republicans gain control of Congress in November," Negrete added, "we can expect to see them fight harder for even more extreme restrictions on this essential freedom."

Fetterman was not the only Democratic Senate hopeful to sound the alarm about the GOP's crusade for a national abortion ban, which researchers have estimated would lead to a 24% increase in maternal mortality in the U.S.—already a much more dangerous place to be pregnant compared with other high-income countries.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, a Democrat who is narrowly leading the polls in Ohio's pivotal U.S. Senate race, quickly shared a campaign ad showcasing his far-right opponent J.D. Vance's support for completely ending access to abortion care.

"Vance would all too happily vote to jam [Graham's bill] through and codify the biggest act of governmental overreach in our lifetime," Ryan tweeted. "We can't let him get there."

On Monday night, when it became clear that Graham planned to soon unveil his abortion ban legislation, Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes—the Democratic nominee in the crucial swing state's U.S. Senate race—warned, "This is what will happen if we don't expand our Democratic majority in the Senate, abolish the filibuster, and codify Roe."

"Everything is on the line this November," he added.

In a Tuesday statement, Barnes pointed out that his opponent, incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), has a long history of supporting the GOP's assault on reproductive freedom, including:

  • fighting to uphold Mississippi's law banning abortion after 15 weeks;
  • calling the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade "the correct decision" and "a victory";
  • saying that if people don't like the abortion laws in their state they "can move"; and
  • co-sponsoring every version of Graham's abortion ban for the last ten years.

"Ron Johnson's willingness to compromise women's freedoms and put their lives at risk is disqualifying," said Barnes. "Once again, he's proving how out of touch he is with our lives and our values."

Like Ryan, Barnes and Fetterman are currently out-polling their respective Republican opponents but by wider margins.

The three candidates are widely viewed as the Democrats with the best chances to flip seats in the Senate. Such an outcome could help their party retain, and possibly expand, its razor-thin majority in the upper chamber.

"The stakes have never been higher," Planned Parenthood president Alexis McGill Johnson said Tuesday. "This election is critical. It's going to take all of us."

This piece has been updated to include a statement from Mandela Barnes as well as John Fetterman's response to the statement Mehmet Oz released regarding a 15-week federal abortion ban.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

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