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Fetterman, and Oz (sort of) weigh in on Sen. Lindsey Graham’s 15-week abortion ban

The Democrat, John Fetterman said he’d be a “HELL NO,” if the bill came up for a vote and he was a U.S. Senator. Mehmet Oz, the Republican candidate, wasn’t as unequivocal.

U.S. Senate candidates John Fetterman (left) and Mehmet Oz (right)
U.S. Senate candidates John Fetterman (left) and Mehmet Oz (right)Read moreStaff / File

After Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) introduced a 15-week abortion ban Tuesday, the boldest step by Republicans to restrict abortion on a federal level since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Pennsylvania’s Senate candidates weighed in — kind of.

The Democrat, John Fetterman, said he’d be a “HELL NO” if the bill came up for a vote and he was a U.S. senator.

Mehmet Oz, the Republican candidate, wasn’t as unequivocal.

“Dr. Oz is pro-life with three exceptions: life of the mother, rape and incest,” Oz’s campaign spokeswoman Brittany Yanick said in response to a question about the bill from The Inquirer.

“And as a senator, he’d want to make sure that the federal government is not involved in interfering with the state’s decisions on the topic.”

The first half of the answer seems in line with Graham’s proposal, which would ban abortions at about four months, but the second half suggests Oz wouldn’t support any legislation that takes power away from states to determine the law.

Oz’s campaign did not respond to follow-up questions seeking clarification.

Fetterman’s campaign leapt at the chance to attack Oz over his answer.

“When you’re a Senator, you actually have to take positions. You have to take votes — sometimes hard votes,” Fetterman said in a statement. “This isn’t some TV show. This matters. These are people’s lives. ... Dr. Oz and his team need to stop the spin. ... Yes or no, would you support this bill?”

» READ MORE: ‘Women are the reason we can win,’ John Fetterman says at packed abortion-rights rally in Montco

Abortion bans have presented a challenge to Republicans, particularly those running in more moderate parts of the country. And Graham’s bill, which has almost no chance of becoming law, has divided national Republicans at a time when abortion has become a big midterm issue for Democrats who hope nationwide restrictions will help them build momentum among voters who favor abortion access.

A recent Franklin and Marshall poll showed an increase in interest among Democrats in the election since the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision.

Polling shows a shift among Democrats and independents toward unfettered abortion rights, which could motivate them to oppose Republican candidates who have taken increasingly hard-line stances against abortion.

Oz, who is narrowly trailing Fetterman in a tight race in most polls, recently faced backlash after a recording from the primary surfaced of him calling abortion “murder.” He has since said he does not support criminal penalties for doctors or pregnant people who illegally perform or undergo abortions.

» READ MORE: Where Pa.’s 2022 candidates for governor and Senate stand on abortion

The celebrity doctor has shown signs of moderation on some issues in recent weeks. He said on Monday that he would support legislation to codify same-sex marriage at the federal level. He joined more than 400 Republicans in signing a letter to support that bill.

Fetterman has said he doesn’t support the government imposing any restrictions on abortion and has pledged to vote to overturn the filibuster and codify the right to an abortion into law if elected to the Senate.