Wrapping up a tale dripping with all the irony of a literary masterpiece, GOP Rep. Tim Murphy of the House Pro-life caucus announced his retirement on Wednesday after a report that he pressured his mistress to have an abortion was published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The report included a couple of text messages between Murphy and Shannon Edwards, the Pittsburgh-based forensic psychologist with whom Murphy admitted earlier this year to having an affair.
On Wednesday, Murphy released a statement saying that he would not seek reelection and “will take personal time to seek help” as he and his family “continue to work through [their] personal difficulties and seek healing.”
“I ask you to respect our privacy during this time,” he wrote.
According to the text messages that have been released, quite literally at the same time that Murphy was blasting tweets celebrating the March for Life back in January, Murphy was urging his mistress to have an abortion.
Here are the texts the Post-Gazette published on Tuesday:
“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,” Edwards wrote in a text message sent on Jan. 25.
“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.”
Since the Post-Gazette broke the news, media outlets have been pounding out reports about Murphy’s robust relationship with the anti-choice movement—his 100 percent anti-abortion voting record grade from anti-choice group, The Family Research Council; his funding and endorsements from anti-choice groups. Murphy has notably voted for every anti-abortion bill that’s come the House’s way, sponsoring a bill that would recognize “preborn equal protection under 14th Amendment” and essentially ban abortion, and recently confirming his support for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a bill that would ban 20-week abortions and penalize women and doctors involved in them. Murphy’s “pro-life” identity has largely defined his career, earning him endorsements, funding and respect in his party.
All the while, anti-choice groups and lawmakers have been busy at work distancing themselves from Murphy. But while (however unintentionally) Murphy may have revealed his tolerance for abortion—or, at least in cases when it can serve him as a man—he and the anti-choice movement remain one and the same, connected by a staunch political selfishness that is epitomized by this particular incident.
The “pro-life” movement serves one purpose, and that is to impose individuals’ personal beliefs—or, in Murphy’s case, his deceitful moral superiority—on a nation, shrugging off or ignoring the sometimes fatal consequences of anti-abortion policies on millions of women.
Clearly, Murphy does not hate abortion as much as he has spent years claiming to. But his combination of political ambition and indifference to women’s health, livelihoods, and bodily autonomy have hurt women just as much as all the other anti-choice lawmakers.
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