Pennsylvania Republicans vied to demonstrate their pro-life credentials in a pivotal Newsmax-hosted debate Wednesday, two weeks out from the state’s U.S. Senate GOP primary and two days after an unprecedented Supreme Court leak highlighted the issue of abortion.
Kathy Barnette, an Army veteran and author, revealed that she was conceived in rape and dared Dr. Mehmet Oz – whom former President Trump endorsed and who is barely ahead of Barnette and former Treasury Undersecretary David McCormick in the latest polls – to say that she was just “a clump of cells” before her birth.
“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.”
Kathy Barnette’s family (Credit: Kathy Barnette)
She went on to say “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.”
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“I am wondering if the doctor has now since changed his position on that,” Barnette added. “My life is valuable and so are the many lives that find themselves in the womb of their mother.”
Oz responded by touting an endorsement – the endorsement of his mother-in-law.
“My mother-in-law is an ordained minister. She wrote a lot of the pro-life literature in Montgomery County where we live, and she certainly understands that I’m pro-life,” the longtime TV personality 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.”
Dr. Mehmet Oz, Professor of Surgery, Columbia University speaks onstage during the 2021 Concordia Annual Summit – Day 2 at Sheraton New York on September 21, 2021, in New York City.
(Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Concordia Summit)
McCormick, a former Bridgewater Associates CEO who served in the George W. Bush administration, celebrated Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s leaked draft opinion in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, which struck down Roe v. Wade. (While Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed Tuesday that the draft was genuine, it dates back to Feb. 10 and does not represent the current or final opinion of the Court.)
“This leaked memo, if it becomes the court’s decision, is a huge victory for the protection of innocent life,” McCormick said. “It’s a huge step forward and it also pushes the decisions down to the state level, and voters, where they should be.” He added that if it becomes the ruling, “I would embrace it and I would be very, very happy about it.”
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McCormick, like Barnette, attacked Oz on the issue, saying that his mother-in-law’s endorsement is “not an adequate answer.”
“If you go back to that breakfast Club interview, which was three years ago this month, he talks about a whole different set of positions,” McCormick noted. He turned to Oz, saying that his opponent has “a track record that’s completely opposite the positions you’re saying now. … It’s another example of you being phony in terms of the positions you’re putting forward.”
David McCormick, the former CEO of a giant hedge fund, declared his candidacy for Senate on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022, formally joining a crowded field of Republican contenders vying for the GOP nomination in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania.
(McCormick Senate campaign)
Oz explicitly attacked the claim that life begins at conception in the 2019 Breakfast Club interview. “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,” he said.
While Oz said he personally would not want anyone in his family to get an abortion, he went on to warn that states that ban abortion at six weeks would damage business in those states, and he expressed sympathy with “women who had coat-hanger abortions,” suggesting that Roe v. Wade helped the situation.
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A new Monmouth University poll shows a near tie between the top three candidates, with Oz leading at 22%, closely followed by McCormick at 19% and Barnette at 18%.
Jeff Bartos, a businessman and former GOP nominee for lieutenant governor, slammed both Oz and McCormick as out-of-staters.
“I’m pro-life and Pennsylvania has a proud tradition of sending United States senators to Washington who are pro-life from both parties,” he said.
Kathy Barnette, Mehmet Oz, moderator Greta Van Susteren, Carla Sands, David McCormick, and Jeff Bartos, (left to right) pose for photo before they take part in a debate for Pennsylvania U.S. Senate Republican candidates, Wednesday, May 4, 2022, in Grove City, Pa.
(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
“This seat, which will likely decide control of the Senate, is too important to trust from two people who are from Connecticut and New Jersey,” Bartos added in a slight against McCormick, a recent Connecticut resident, and Oz, a longtime New Jersey resident. Bartos also noted that Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the likely Democratic opponent, has firmly defended abortion.
Carla Sands, former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark, attacked both Oz and McCormick. She called Oz a “MINO,” “MAGA in name only,” and slammed McCormick as a Pennsylvania version of Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who voted to remove President Trump in the second impeachment.
“But as far as life, life is precious. I will always vote to protect life at the beginning of life. and at the end of life,” Sands said.
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“The person who leaked this document did it on purpose to intimidate the Supreme Court,” she added. “We know that Roe v. Wade is unconstitutional. It will now go back to the states. And this is a way, if it’s true, that the people are empowered to make the decisions in each state. I support the overturn of Roe v. Wade.”
Tyler O’Neil is an editor at Fox News. On Twitter: @Tyler2ONeil. News tips can be sent to: email@example.com.