Hours before the U.S. House voted on Tuesday in favor of legislation to ban abortion after 20 weeks nationwide, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published text messages from January that suggest one of the bill's co-sponsors urged a woman with whom he had an affair to seek abortion amid a pregnancy scare.
Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) is a member of the U.S. House Pro-Life Caucus, and has been praised by anti-choice groups such as the Family Research Council and LifePAC. He co-sponsored the"Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" (pdf), a bill that advanced Tuesday evening, and that reproductive rights advocates say is "unconstitutional" and "misleadingly labeled," and "has nothing to do with science."
On Tuesday afternoon, the Post-Gazette, citing a series of documents the paper obtained, published text messages exchanged between Murphy and his mistress regarding an anti-choice statement posted on the congressman's official Facebook account:
"And you have zero issue posting your pro-life stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week when we thought that was one of the options," Shannon Edwards, a forensic psychologist in Pittsburgh with whom the congressman admitted last month to having a relationship, wrote to Mr. Murphy on Jan. 25, in the midst of an unfounded pregnancy scare.
A text from Mr. Murphy's cell phone number that same day in response says, "I get what you say about my March for life messages. I've never written them. Staff does them. I read them and winced. I told staff don't write any more. I will."
Edwards declined the paper's request for comment, and Murphy did not respond, but according to the roll call, he voted in favor of the anti-choice bill, which passed 237-189. The proposed law has not yet passed the Senate.
Reproductive rights advocates immediately denounced the Republican-led House following the vote. Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, called the the potential ban "a threat to women's lives and health, and at odds with medical standards of care," adding: "This bill is another attempt by anti-choice politicians to appease their base after multiple efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act have recently failed."
"It's unfathomable that two days after the worst mass shooting in modern American history, with Americans clamoring for action to make our families safe, and millions of Americans in Puerto Rico living without electricity or safe drinking water, the GOP-led Congress would instead choose to prioritize this abortion ban that will place women at grave risk," said NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue. "Their complete disregard to govern in a way that matches the priorities of the American people is staggering."
In light of the Post-Gazette's damning report, the congressman was also sharply rebuked.
Abortion is murder unless your mistress is pregnant https://t.co/WKqXMRfRUq
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) October 3, 2017
Tim Murphy believes abortion should be illegal except in rare cases of rape, incest or his mistress getting knocked up.
— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) October 3, 2017
With his personal & public actions, Rep. Tim Murphy has shown he seeks to control women in every facet of his life: https://t.co/6LOvQ8sNC3
— NARAL (@NARAL) October 4, 2017
The revelation may not have lasting consequences for Murphy's political career, though. Many quickly pointed out that another anti-choice politician, Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) continues to serve in Congress despite reports that he urged his ex-wife and a mistress to seek abortions.
This worked out fine for Tennessee's Scott DesJarlais https://t.co/wXqcNUfRjm
— Simone Pathe (@sfpathe) October 3, 2017
Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) has won several elections since abortion revelations. Worth noting as Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) drama unfolds.
— David Mark (@DavidMarkDC) October 3, 2017