Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman told a packed Pennsylvania gymnasium Sunday that he will support eliminating the filibuster to protect abortion rights if elected in November, drawing a sharp contrast with Republican opponent Mehmet Oz and clearly laying out the stakes in the critical battleground with the midterms just weeks away.
"Should this decision be made by Dr. Oz?" Fetterman asked the roughly 3,000-strong and enthusiastic crowd, which replied with a forceful "no!"
"It should be left to a woman and a real doctor," said Fetterman, the lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, one of a handful of states where Democrats hope to flip Senate seats in November. "Send me to D.C. and you will know I will be there to be that vote to scrap the filibuster and codify Roe v. Wade."
Fetterman's campaign, which is currently leading in the polls, has sought in recent weeks to highlight Oz's position on abortion, particularly in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's June decision overturning Roe and imperiling reproductive rights across much of the country.
That ruling has angered and galvanized people nationwide, with abortion rights groups taking coordinated legal action to protect fundamental freedoms and demanding urgent action from legislators who have thus far failed to codify abortion rights at the federal level, blocked by Republicans and right-wing Democrats. Groups in Pennsylvania say they've seen a jump in registered voters since June, many of them young women.
"Women are the reason we can win," Fetterman said during Sunday's rally at Montgomery County Community College. "Don't piss women off."
During a virtual campaign event in May, shortly before the Pennsylvania primaries, Oz characterized abortion at any stage of pregnancy as "murder." After audio of the event was published last month by The Daily Beast, Oz—an ultra-millionaire and former television personality—said he is "strongly pro-life" and only supports allowing abortion in the case of rape, incest, or life-threatening danger to the patient.
Fetterman and other speakers at Sunday's rally, including Planned Parenthood President Alexis McGill Johnson and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania CEO Dayle Steinberg, condemned Oz's stance and warned his election to the U.S. Senate would further threaten abortion rights as the GOP sets its sights on a federal ban.
"Despite the Hippocratic Oath that Dr. Oz took to do no harm, he was caught calling abortion at any stage of a pregnancy 'murder,'" Steinberg said. "To hear Oz's real opinion on abortion, you need a hot mic."
McGill Johnson, for her part, called Oz a "charlatan" and said his election "would cost women their lives."
Oz, McGill Johnson added, would be a mere "rubber stamp for Mitch McConnell."