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GOP Senate Candidate Gets Personal During Debate: I Was 'Byproduct of Rape'

AP Photo/ Matt Rourke

Since the leak of a draft opinion showing the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, all talk in Washington and around the country has been focused on abortion this week. The topic also took center stage Wednesday during a debate among Pennsylvania GOP Senate candidates. 

When it was Army veteran and author Kathy Barnette's turn to tout her pro-life credentials, she declared she was conceived in rape. 

"I am the byproduct of a rape," Barnette declared. "My mother was 11 years old when I was conceived. My father was 21. I was not just a lump of cells. As you can see, I'm still not just a lump of cells. My life has value." 

She then used the opportunity to draw a contrast with celebrity doctor, Mehmet Oz, who has received former President Trump's critical endorsement. 

"That is one of the reasons why I was so very disturbed when I saw Mehmet Oz running for this particular race, when I've seen him on numerous occasions, and specifically at the Breakfast Club, saying that my life was nothing more than an acorn with electrical current,” she said. 

"I am wondering if the doctor has now since changed his position on that," Barnette continued. "My life is valuable and so are the many lives that find themselves in the womb of their mother." 

As many have highlighted throughout his campaign, Oz has been on both sides of the abortion issue. 

[O]nly two years earlier, Oz characterized efforts to overturn Roe as a misleading and possibly conspiratorial crusade. Not only was Oz supportive of abortion rights, he seemed puzzled that people would spend time fighting abortion rights—going so far as to say that, as a physician, he was “really worried” about the anti-abortion movement and that eliminating Roe would have negative effects on women’s health.

“It’s, as a doctor—just putting my doctor hat on—it’s a big-time concern,” Oz said in the 2019 interview, which aired on the Breakfast Club radio show. “Because I went to medical school in Philadelphia, and I saw women who had coat-hanger events. And I mean really traumatic events that happened when they were younger, before Roe v. Wade. And many of them were harmed for life.”

Oz conceded that abortion “is a hard issue for everybody,” and he said that, on “a personal level,” he disliked abortion and would not want anyone in his family to have one. But he took a common pro-choice position in 2019 that his belief should not be forced onto others. He would not want to “interfere with everyone else’s stuff,” he said, “because it’s hard enough to get into life as it is.”

Oz’s defense of abortion wasn’t just a passing question. He held forth for seven minutes in this 2019 interview about the practice and was highly critical of anti-abortion advocates who argue that life begins at conception. (The Daily Beast)

Responding to Barnette, Oz spoke about how his mother-in-law, an ordained minister, endorsed him. 

"She wrote a lot of the pro-life literature in Montgomery County where we live, and she certainly understands that I'm pro-life," Oz said. "As a heart surgeon, I've operated on small children a few days old and witnessed the majesty of their hearts pounding blood, even though ill, because I'm operating on them through those bodies, I would never think of harming that child, or even nine months earlier because life starts at conception." 

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