Pennsylvania women cheer Fetterman’s call for codifying Roe
Pennsylvania's Democratic candidate for the Senate, John Fetterman, pledges that if elected he will back a national law codifying Roe. | Jacquelyn Martin/AP

ERIE. Pa. – John Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senate nominee, took a strong position in the suburbs of the Southeastern part of this state. He pledged that in the U.S. Senate he would undo the damage done by the Supreme Court by backing a national law that codifies Roe.

“Women are the reason we can win,” he declared at a massive gathering of women and their supporters on Sept. 11 at Montgomery County Community College in the town of Blue Bell. He spoke to a crowd packed cheek by jowl with eager supporters.

“Let me say that again: Women are the reason we win,” he told the crowd, standing amidst the backdrop of a sign that read, “Women For Fetterman,” paired with the U.S. flag – a stark reminder of how essential women’s right to control their bodies is for American democracy. After having introduced himself as ‘John Fetterwoman,’ the lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania added, “Don’t piss women off. Send me to D.C. and you know I will be there to be that vote to scrap the filibuster and codify Roe v. Wade.

As the most vital of the many pressing issues Fetterman has campaigned on, his stance on abortion is also perhaps the strongest counterpoint to the views of his GOP opponent, Trump-backed television doctor, Mehmet Oz. With only weeks between now and the midterms, this clear delineation between them positions Fetterman on the side of the women of this state, determined more than ever before to battle for their rights, health, and safety, all of which are under assault by Republicans.

The crowd of roughly 3,000 cried out their agreement, when Fetterman asked, “Should this decision be made by Dr. Oz?” The collective roar of “NO!” reverberated throughout the room. “It should be left to a woman and a real doctor,” Fetterman agreed. “Oz believes abortion is murder – no exceptions, rape or incest. If every abortion is a murder, that means Dr. Oz considers every woman who had to choose abortion is a killer.”

His words underscored the ugly truth of how Oz views the entire female portion of his potential voting base, and the Republican’s thoughts on the matter are backed up by recently uncovered audio evidence. Oz’s remarks occurred during a tele-townhall on May 10, a week ahead of Oz winning his party’s Senate nomination.

Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, John Fetterman, on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania.  | video screenshot

Says abortion is murder

The celebrity TV doctor said that abortion, even if it takes place before there is any detectible heartbeat, constitutes murder. “Why would you worry about a heartbeat if life begins at conception?” he asked in the audio.

Issues like pregnancies resulting from rape, incest, or pregnancies that endanger the health of the mother or would involve a woman going forward with a non-viable pregnancy or bringing a severely deformed fetus to term were of no concern to the “doctor.”

“Despite the Hippocratic oath that Dr. Oz took to do no harm, he was caught calling abortion at any stage of pregnancy ‘murder,’ ” said Dayle Steinberg, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Fetterman’s campaign spokeswoman Emilia Rowland noted of Oz’s comments that “Oz knows his abortion position isn’t popular. That’s why you need a hot mic in order to hear it. Dr. Oz is wildly out of touch with the people of Pennsylvania who support abortion rights by 9 out of 10. Dr. Oz wants to let extremists ban abortion in PA and across the country. If he’s elected, he will be a rubber stamp to criminalize abortion, appoint justices even more radical than today’s, and send doctors, nurses, and patients to jail.”

There is a major uptick, meanwhile, in women registering to vote following the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court, and in Pennsylvania it is no exception – many of these new women registrants  were part of the overflowing crowd at the Blue Bell rally.

Fetterman’s words were not, however, aimed solely at Oz, but also at the far-right Republican nominee for governor, Doug Mastriano, who participated in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and who also advocates for a complete ban on abortion. “The dream of Republicans here in Pennsylvania,” said Fetterman, “is to turn us into Texas.”

Mastriano has also bragged that if he is governor he will, “with the stroke of a pen,” be able to seize voting machines and fix “irregularities” he does not like according to his own whims. He has also bragged that he can appoint a secretary of state who would help Pennsylvania pick presidential electors that Republicans in control of the state legislature prefer, regardless of the choice of the people of the state.

Also among the multitude of politicians who want to destroy women’s rights and the constitutional rights to privacy, including abortion rights, is Lindsey Graham, the GOP Senator from South Carolina, who has introduced a restrictive bill that would ban abortions nationwide. Should Oz beat Fetterman in Pennsylvania, the chances of that legislation passing would increase.

Right now the lineup in the Senate is 50 Republicans and 48 Democrats and two Independents who caucus with the Democrats. The tie is broken by Vice President Kamala Harris, giving the Dems the slimmest of margins. An Oz victory here could put the Republicans in control of the Senate with Mitch McConnel replacing Chuck Schumer as Majority Leader. Such a scenario would almost guarantee Senate passage of a nationwide ban on abortion.

The latest Fetterman rally proved to be one of the largest events since Fetterman returned to the campaign trail here in Erie last month. Fetterman is leading Oz 48 percent to 44, with 5 percent undecided and 11 percent supporting another candidate, according to a poll released by Emerson College Polling in late August.

Fetterman and the Democrats are not taking comfort from this lead because they expect Republicans to pour millions of dollars into the Oz campaign, including TV ads, many of which will be misleading, between now and the election. They know that to a very large extent the final results will depend upon turnout.

It’s no exaggeration to say that what happens in the Senate race here will decide for the entire nation one or more of the most crucial issues of our time. “When you’re a Senator,” said Fetterman, “you actually have to take positions. This isn’t some TV show. This matters. These are people’s lives.”


Blake Skylar
Blake Skylar

Blake is a writer and production manager, responsible for the daily assembly of the People's World home page. He has earned awards from the IWPA and ILCA, and his articles have appeared in publications such as Workday Minnesota, EcoWatch, and Earth First News. He has covered issues including the BP oil spill in New Orleans and the 2015 U.N. Climate Conference in Paris.

He lives in Pennsylvania with his girlfriend and their cats. He enjoys wine, books, music, and nature. In his spare time, he reviews music, creates artwork, and is working on several books and digital comics.