In Depth

Pro-life US congressman ‘urged mistress to have abortion’

Tim Murphy says he will not seek re-election as scandal breaks days after he voted to restrict abortions

An anti-abortion Republican congressman has announced will not seek re-election at the end of his term, after it emerged that he urged a woman with whom he was having an affair to have an abortion.

Congressman Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania made the decision a day after the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published text messages between Murphy and Shannon Edwards, his mistress.

In a message sent on 25 January, she allegedly told the congressman he had “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”, says USA Today.

Murphy reportedly responded to Edwards, claiming that his anti-abortion statements are merely the work of his staff. “I’ve never written them,” he is said to have replied. “Staff does them. I read them and winced. I told staff don’t write any more.”

The congressman has not commented directly on the allegations, except to say that he is going through “personal difficulties”.

The National Republican Congressional Committee confirmed on Wednesday that Murphy will retire at the end of this term - but that didn’t save him from mockery on social media.

Many people pointed out that Murphy had voted on Tuesday to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36), which bans abortion after 20 weeks.

Murphy’s record on abortion-related issues has been strongly pro-life, with him voting in favour of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act in 2011 and the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, as well as restrictions on the sexual health organisation Planned Parenthood in 2011.

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