Attempting to back away from a plan released by Senator Lindsey Graham to ban abortion at the national level after 15 weeks into a pregnancy, Dr Mehmet Oz stepped right into a potential gaffe on Tuesday evening in the Pennsylvania US Senate debate.
Following his repudiation of that legislation and vow to allow the issue to be decided at the state level, the celebrity TV doctor gave a surprising addition to the typical list of who should be involved in a woman’s intimate medical decisions.
“Abortion should be the business of a woman, her doctor, and her local political leaders,” declared the Republican candidate.
The line was very quickly seized upon by Democrats watching the debate as the quoteable moment of the night. The significance of the remark was obvious; abortion rights campaigners, especially those in conversations with on-the-fence Republicans on the issue, have reported resounding success in driving forward with the idea that the practice is an intimate and personal medical choice that should not be legislated by out-of-touch, unqualified politcians instead of doctors.
Dr Oz’s inexperience in the political arena aside, the moment was indicative of the overall Republican messaging mismanagement surrounding the issue of abortion rights. The Supreme Court decision overturning Roe vs Wade earlier this year almost appeared to catch the conservative right by surprise, despite anti-abortion activists acting with that clear-stated intention for decades. As a result, the party’s message has been fractured as high-profile Republicans disagree over whether the issue should be dealt with by the states or federal government, not to mention the language of the bans themselves.
Complicating the issue for the right are the horror stories resulting from these bans which have left the GOP with little defences; a particularly damaging story out of Ohio involving a 10-year-old rape victim has led to the party facing accusations of cruelty towards such victims of sexual abuse and rape.
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