As Landon reported last week, Dr. Mehmet Oz announced he is running for office as a Republican to replace Pennsylvania's Sen. Pat Toomey (R) who is retiring. Monday's piece by Roger Sollenberger for The Daily Beast, however, shows that Dr. Oz has past positions on abortions that may be troubling to the Republican base.
Sollenberger begins his piece, "Inside Dr. Oz’s Shameless Flip-Flop on Abortion," with the candidate's current position. Dr. Oz, Sollenberger reported, "suggested he was at peace that the Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade." As Dr. Oz said during an interview with News 8 WGAL, he was "okay with the Supreme Court making the right decision on Roe, "based on what they think the Constitution says."
Dr. Oz's campaign site features a section on "PROTECT INNOCENT LIFE," which reads "Dr. Oz is a successful heart surgeon – he has literally held a beating heart in his hands. He knows how precious life is and is 100% Pro-Life. "
Yet the bulk of Sollenberger's piece focuses on Dr. Oz's past views on abortion, including how, despite being a doctor--he's a cardiothoracic surgeon--he undermines the pro-life position.
During a 2019 interview that aired on the "Breakfast Club" radio program, Dr. Oz took suggested life might not begin at conception. "Just being logical about it," he said during the show, "if you think that the moment of conception you’ve got a life, then why would you even wait six weeks? Right, then an in vitro fertilized egg is still a life."
Most biologists acknowledge that scientific fact that life does begin at conception, based on biology. You can read the thoughts of many such doctors collected in this 2018 paper "Biologists' Consensus on 'When Life Begins." However, state amendment "personhood" proposals have failed at the ballot box, while an Alabama law that bans nearly all abortions was struck down by the courts.
Dr. Oz also addressed six week abortion bans which are actually based on when a heartbeat is detected, at around that point in pregnancy.
When discussing heartbeat bills in particular, Dr. Oz mentioned a popular criticism of the legislation, that abortion is banned before most women know they are pregnant. However, he also bought into a pro-abortion talking point to claim that it is not actually a heartbeat.
From Sollenberger's piece:
“There are electrical exchanges at six weeks, but the heart’s not beating,” Oz said.
“If you’re going to define life by a beating heart, then make it a beating heart, not little electrical exchanges in the cell that no one would hear or think about as a heart,” he continued. To do otherwise, he said, misleads the average person into “envisioning a little acorn heart beating in there, and that’s not what’s going on at six weeks.”
That talking point has been used recently by the mainstream media as well as abortion advocates who seek to deny the existence of a fetal heartbeat. Whether intentionally or not, this serves to undermine the arguments in support of the legislation and downplay the humanity of the unborn.
Sollenberger also detailed comments Dr. Oz made about pro-life individuals. "He questioned why anti-abortion advocates cared so much in the first place," he wrote, quoting the candidate as saying "Is this really the way they want to spend their time?" Dr. Oz went on to say "There’s so much we gotta fix in the world."
Dr. Oz has also surrounded himself with those who engage in fear-mongering about the fate women will face if Roe is overturned:
When Breakfast Club co-host Angela Yee expressed concern that if Roe were overturned, abortions would continue, but “in a dangerous way and it could actually kill you,” Oz backed that up with his own medical experience.
To be clear, that means states will decide their own abortion laws. Further, the abortion movement, from abortion advocates to mainstream media allies, have furthered a claim that a 2019 fact-check from The Washington Post that pointed out the high numbers of deaths cited were actually in 1969 by statistician Christopher Tietze. As was also pointed out, in 1959, Planned Parenthood's medical director, Mary Steichen Calderone, wrote that "Abortion is no longer a dangerous procedure," which "applies... to so-called illegal abortions as done by physicians."
Dr. Oz has been cozy with Dr. Leana Wen, who was previously the head of Planned Parenthood, and whose claims about women dying in abortion were fact-checked in that Washington Post article referenced above.
Jack Posobiec and Greg Price tweeted clips of the radio program.
Dr. Oz continued: "If the litmus test is a heart beating, than make it the heart beating. Don't make some surrogate version when cells are having an electrical path... The average person isn't envisioning an acorn heart beating in there."— Greg Price (@greg_price11) December 7, 2021
h/t: @JackPosobiec pic.twitter.com/GJeZnxmDr9
Abortion is not the only social issue where conservatives may have concerns.
In an article for LifeSiteNews, Raymond Wolfe highlighted several episodes of "The Dr. Oz Show" which provided a platform for transgender activists and transgender children. Such episodes were applauded by GLAAD.
Wolfe specifically detailed Dr. Robert Garofalo, a Chicago pediatrician who is also a transgender activist.
Dr. Garofalo wrote in 2016 that:
...Following the episode, families with gender nonconforming children as young as 4 or 5 years of age suddenly began to use the Internet to contact me to come in for healthcare. Children and families from as far away as Arkansas and Kansas (I am in Chicago) were looking for a medical provider to help provide education, guidance, and care. This experience combined with the mentorship and encouragement of colleagues and friends such as Johanna Olson, MD, and Stephen Rosenthal, MD, led to a change (some might say addition to) in my career path to think more broadly about the transgender health and specifically to the inclusion of children and families.
Dr. Oz is running in a crowded primary, which will take place on May 17, 2022. As Balltopedia notes, Cook Political Report and Sabato's Crystal Ball rate the race as a "toss-up" while Inside Elections rate it as "Battleground Republican."