Kathy Barnette, running for senate in the state of Pennsylvania, spoke with strength about her origins in a debate on Wednesday evening. Her mother, she said, was only 11-years-old when she was raped by a man 10 years her senior. Barnette was the result of that rape, and her gratitude to her mother for carrying her and giving her life was clear.
"Whether this was a leak or whether this was a tactical operation we will soon figure out," she said in response to a question about the recent, unprecedented leak of a draft majority opinion from the Supreme Court that could overturn Roe v. Wade.
"One thing is clear, I am so very grateful that our nation is now having a very important conversation, and that is the most important conversation, that is about life. I am the byproduct of a rape," she said.
"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. And that is one of the reasons why it was so very disturbing when I saw Mehmet Oz," who is also running for Senate in the state and shared the stage Wednesday night with Barnette, "running for this particular race."
Barnette said she had seen Oz, on "numerous occasions," including on podcast The Breakfast Club, where in 2019 he said that six weeks into a woman's pregnancy, a baby's heart is just "a cell" with "little electrical changes." Oz is a surgeon who has performed operations on infants.
"And the other thing is this whole thing about heart beating," Oz said at the time. "I mean, they're electrical changes at six weeks, but the heart's not beating … If you were to say, starting when we can hear the heart, like when the heart's really doing something, that'd be different. That's not six weeks, though."
Barnette asked Oz if he had changed his position on that.
Oz did not say whether he had or had not changed his view, but said "One of the toughest endorsements you could ever get is from your 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."
"As a heart surgeon I've operated on small children few days old and witnessed the majesty of their hearts pounding blood even though it's ill because I'm operating not to those bodies. I would never think of harming that child or even nine months earlier because life starts at conception," Oz said.
In her closing statements, Barnette spoke directly to the people of Pennsylvania, saying "I am you Pennsylvania and like you I believe this is the greatest country that has ever existed, but like you, I believe our country is in trouble. I believe that America that allowed me to claw my way out of dire poverty is about to come to a close."
"This time you do not have to hold your nose to vote for the lesser of two evils. I am in a statistical tie for first place, so voting for me is not throwing your vote away.
"Listen, go to my Facebook page by Kathy Barnett for Senate and you will see exactly what I'm doing today that I will amp up tomorrow after this race.
"You will see me in rooms full of black people changing their voter registration from Democrat to Republican, you will see me downtown and Chinatown. They are mine. You will see people ushering me in front of a roomful of Amish people with them introducing me as someone with their values.
"Not only do I have a grasp on our own base, but I can go into every nook and cranny and take the votes that we need in order to really be better than in the general election. So let's go do this."
Barnette received a massive round of applause after these remarks.