Republicans who in 2022 lost a Senate seat to Democratic abortion rights supporter John Fetterman are standing firm against reproductive rights.
A year after Republicans in Pennsylvania lost a seat they had held in the U.S. Senate, in large part due to their nominee’s anti-abortion rights stance, they seem poised to run a candidate with similar views in 2024.
NBC News’ exit polling in the 2022 midterm elections found that of the more than 37% of Pennsylvanians who cited abortion rights as the biggest factor in their vote, 78% voted for Democratic Senate nominee John Fetterman, who supports reproductive freedom. Just 21% voted for Republican nominee Mehmet Oz, who does not. Fetterman won the seat by a 51%-46% margin.
Now Oz and at least four other prominent Republicans are reportedly possible contenders to challenge Democratic Sen. Bob Casey in November 2024 for Pennsylvania’s other Senate seat.
All five have a history of opposing abortion rights or outright backing a ban.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee is reportedly trying to recruit multimillionaire former hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick, who has said he is considering entering the race after narrowly losing the 2020 Republican Senate primary.
McCormick, who lived and worked in Connecticut from 2009 until he decided to run in the 2022 race, said in an April 2022 debate that he backed an almost total abortion ban: “I believe in the very rare instances, there should be exceptions for the life of the mother.”
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, a campaign spokesperson said in June that McCormick would now also include exceptions for rape and incest.
His campaign website issues page says: “Dave is staunchly pro-life and believes that life begins at conception. Dave has attended the March for Life rally in Washington, D.C. and will continue to advocate for the rights of the unborn.”
“The real David McCormick supports an abortion ban without exceptions for rape or incest,” Maddy McDaniel, Pennsylvania Democratic Party spokesperson, told the American Independent Foundation. “His candidacy is a threat to women’s right to make their own health care decisions in Pennsylvania and the country.”
Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity boasted on her campaign Facebook page in September 2020 that she had been endorsed by a prominent anti-abortion rights organization now known as SBA Pro-Life America: “I am pleased to announce that I have been endorsed by the Susan B. Anthony List. … Thank you for the love and support!”
She has frequently posted anti-abortion messages on the Facebook page and, in response to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi criticizing the right-wing majority on the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2022, Garrity wrote, “What’s really dangerous to families and freedom is aborting babies and packing the Supreme Court.”
Oz, who has reportedly moved away from Pennsylvania and politics since his defeat, insisted in his 2022 campaign that he was “100% pro-life” despite 2019 comments in support of reproductive choice. At a virtual town hall before the GOP primary, he argued that “life starts at conception” and said abortion at any stage after conception is “still murder.”
In an October debate against Fetterman, Oz said that the federal government should leave abortion bans to the states, explaining, “I want women, doctors, local political leaders, letting the democracy that’s always allowed our nation to thrive, to put the best ideas forward so states can decide for themselves.”
Former U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus’ campaign website notes that he co-sponsored a 2015 bill banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and says:
Keith is working to build a culture of life, and agrees with most Americans that late term abortion is simply not acceptable. The United States is one of only seven countries in the world, including China, North Korea and Vietnam, to allow elective abortion after 20 weeks, an age at which babies can feel pain. The House passed, with Keith’s support, legislation to stop this.
Abortion opponents frequently repeat the debunked claim that a fetus can feel pain early in a pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says on its website, “The science conclusively establishes that a human fetus does not have the capacity to experience pain until after at least 24–25 weeks.”
Carla Sands, who served as President Donald Trump’s ambassador to Denmark and also ran in the 2022 Senate primary, has called for an abortion ban. Asked in the April 2022 debate if she supported any exceptions, she replied, “I am pro-life at the beginning of life and at the end of life,” did not answer the question, and criticized her opponents for not being sufficiently opposed to abortion.
According to a June 2023 poll by the polling firm GQR of voters in Pennsylvania and six other Senate battleground states, commissioned by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, 65% of voters in those states support abortion being legal in all or most circumstances.
In its “Abortion Attitudes in a Post-Roe World: Findings From the 50-State 2022 American Values Atlas” report, the nonprofit research organization PRRI found 61% of Pennsylvania residents believe abortion should be legal in most or all situations.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.