Politics

Report: Rep. Tim Murphy Urged Abortion in Affair

Murphy has garnered support from anti-abortion rights groups

Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., has previously admitted to an affair. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Tim Murphy, who has been praised by the anti-abortion rights movement, urged a woman with whom he had an affair to have an abortion, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Tuesday.

The revelations come as the House is debating a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, which Murphy co-sponsored.  Murphy voted for the bill Tuesday evening. He is also a member of the Pro-Life Caucus. 

The Post-Gazette obtained text messages sent between the Pennsylvania Republican and Shannon Edwards. Murphy, a psychologist, admitted last month that he and Edwards engaged in an extramarital affair. Edwards is in the midst of a divorce, which led to the revelation of the affair. 

In the messages, Edwards criticizes Murphy for a Facebook post on federal funds for abortions.

“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 reportedly wrote to Murphy, referring to what the Post-Gazette characterized as an “unfounded pregnancy scare.”

Murphy responded saying that his staff wrote his “March for Life messages.

“I read them and winced,” Murphy said. “I told staff don’t write any more. I will.”

The Post-Gazette also obtained a memo written by Murphy’s chief of staff, Susan Mosyschuk, to Murphy dated June 8. She raised concerns about “sustained inappropriate behavior and engagement” by Murphy toward his staff. She said Murphy has “an inability to communicate without expressions of rage, criticisms or insults.”

Mosychuk described complete turnover in the office over the last year and said over 100 staffers have left since she first came to his office. She said that if the situation does not improve, she will take the issue to the “next level of review” outside the office.

“The office has no comment or response to the story,” Murphy’s spokeswoman Carly Atchison wrote in an email.

It is not clear if the revelations could affect Murphy’s re-election bid. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Solid Republican. President Donald Trump won the district by 20 points in 2016, according to calculations by Daily Kos Elections.

Tennessee Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a self-described “pro-life” physician, found himself in a similar bind five years ago. During the 2012 general election, documents made public from DesJarlais’ 2001 divorce proceedings revealed that he had encouraged his then-wife and a mistress (who was also a patient) to have abortions.

DesJarlais had already secured the GOP nomination that cycle, and in his deeply red 4th District, he easily won re-election. But the issue came up again in his 2014 primary. He won a recount against GOP state senator by just 38 votes.

In 2016, a young former Mitt Romney aide, Grant Starrett, tried to run even harder to DesJarlais’ right. But despite Starrett going after DesJarlais on his commitment to the life issue, the congressman won the GOP nod by 9 points.

Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.Correction Oct. 6, 2:15 p.m. | An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Murphy’s chief of staff, Susan Mosychuk.

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