The XX Factor

“Pro-Life” Congressman Caught Telling His Extramarital Boo to Get an Abortion

Rep. Tim Murphy hates abortion in public, but loves it in private.

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Hypocrisy sucks, but unveiling it can feel as satisfying as taking a gigantic gulp of ice-cold nervous sweat from the brow of a very bad man. Such is the sensation that the reporters at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette must be experiencing in the wake of the marvelous scoop they published Tuesday afternoon: Rep. Tim Murphy, a vocally anti-abortion congressman from Pennsylvania, asked his own girlfriend to terminate a pregnancy this year.

According to documents obtained by the Post-Gazette, Shannon Edwards—a Pittsburgh woman exactly half Murphy’s age with whom he recently admitted to having an extramarital affair—texted Murphy in January about a possible pregnancy that turned out to be just a scare. “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,” she said, referring to a post from Murphy’s professional Facebook account that accused America of “discarding and disregarding the most vulnerable” for allowing abortions past 20 weeks’ gestation.

“I get what you say about my March for life messages,” Murphy responded. “I’ve never written them. Staff does them. I read them and winced. I told staff don’t write any more. I will.”

Wow! That right there is a Family Research Council–approved “pro-life” congressman implying that he doesn’t truly believe in the anti-abortion schlock his office disseminates. This is a guy who has advocated for the U.S. government to define life as beginning at conception, which would outlaw some forms of birth control and force every woman to birth any conceived fetus against her will. The guy who suggested that his girlfriend abort a fetus he (hypothetically) helped conceive is trying like hell to keep every other woman from accessing that same right. In fact, Murphy is a current sponsor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a bill that would ban abortion care provided after 20 weeks’ gestation, defying the protections enshrined by Roe v. Wade. The House is set to vote on the bill on Tuesday.

Murphy is far from the first moralizing anti-abortion legislator to apply a different set of ethics to his own life than to the lives of the millions of U.S. women his votes affect. It’s both satisfying and demoralizing to look back on Murphy’s predecessors, such as anti-abortion Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee. DesJarlais, who’s still in office, supported his wife’s two abortions and was recorded telling a 24-year-old woman with whom he was having an affair that she had to have an abortion “to get this solved and get it over with so we can get on with our lives.” Wouldn’t you know, he’s sponsoring the 20-week abortion ban, too.