Analysis: Dr. Oz’s Terrible Answer on Abortion


Mehmet Oz should have known the question was coming. That makes what he said even worse.

Oz, a Republican Senate candidate from Pennsylvania, was asked about his views on abortion rights during a debate with Democrat John Fetterman, who upheld a federal ban on the procedure in Roe v. After Wade was overruled.

“The federal government should not be involved in how states make abortion decisions,” Oz said. “As a doctor, I’ve been in the room when difficult conversations happen. I don’t want the federal government to be involved in that, in any way.”

How clever! In order for Oz to win statewide in Pennsylvania, he needs to keep it relatively close in the suburbs of Philadelphia, where the federal ban on abortion is generally not a popular idea.

Unfortunately for Oz, he kept talking.

“I want women, doctors, local political leaders to bring forward the best ideas for the democracy that has always allowed our nation to thrive so that the states can decide for themselves,” she added.

Which, um, is not good.

I’m not entirely sure what Oz was trying to do here. It began by borrowing the language of the abortion rights movement, that the decision about abortion is between a woman and her doctor. And then, in a stunning moment, he included “local political leaders” as part of that decision-making process.

The strangest thing about the whole wording is that, as I noted above, Oz must have known the question was coming. Democrats – in Pennsylvania and across the country – have dedicated millions of dollars in television ads to highlight Republicans’ extreme positions on abortion. There is no way that Oz didn’t have an answer ready in preparation for his debate.

Unfortunately for him, if this was his ready answer, it was a massive swing and miss. Democrats were quick to criticize the idea of ​​Oz’s “local leaders” as being out of touch with women and the personal decision they make when they choose to have an abortion.

“Debates are lost more often than they are won, and Mehmet Oz lost this one by arguing that abortion should be a decision between ‘a woman, her doctor and local elected officials.’ he tweeted Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Paul Begala. “The main problem of the Democrats is feeding them. @JohnFetterman must be happy.”

After the debate, the Fetterman campaign said it planned to run an ad highlighting Oz’s comment.

What remains to be seen is how Oz’s comments resonate with voters, and how they fit into the general perception of the debate.

Certainly, Fetterman, who suffered a stroke in May, struggled to make his points during the proceedings. Although he insists that his campaign is on the mend and that his auditory processing problems are temporary, it was hard to watch the debate without seeing one candidate struggling to keep up.

Does that concern about Fetterman’s ability to get the job done end up being the main story coming out of the debate? Or is it Oz’s big gaffe about “local political leaders” being part of a discussion with a woman and her doctor about abortion?

Be sure of this: If Oz hadn’t done the abortion shakeup, the only story that came out of the debate last night would have been Fetterman’s wildly uneven performance. Now, Oz is making headlines, and not in a good way.