A Tea Party Republican congressman who has backed anti-abortion legislation has been revealed to have pressured a mistress to get an abortion of her own.
The Huffington Post reported Wednesday that Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), a former physician, had an affair with a patient that resulted in him pressuring the unidentified woman to get an abortion in September 2000.
Earlier this year, DesJarlais denounced fellow Republican Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) over Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments. However, DesJarlais has not backed away from his support of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” co-sponsored by Akin and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the GOP candidate for vice president.
“I have been a consistent supporter of pro-life values,” DesJarlais told The Chattanooga Times Free-Press in August. “This bipartisan bill simply prevents taxpayer dollars from being used to perform abortions. Human life is sacred and taxpayer funding of abortion is counter to the values a great many Tennesseans hold.”
The bill, which passed in the House of Representatives last year but stalled out in the Senate, sought to increase restrictions on government funding for abortions — which already prohibits federal funding from being used for abortions except in cases of rape, incest and the life of the pregnant woman — by limiting eligibility to victims of “forcible rape.” In August, Ryan tried to distance himself from the bill by saying it used “stock language.”
The Post’s report is based on the transcript of the call, which was recorded by DesJarlais. In a statement, DesJarlais did not deny making the call when presented with a copy of the transcript, but dismissed it as partisan gamesmanship.
“Desperate personal attacks do not solve our nation’s problems,” the statement said. “Yet it appears my opponents are choosing to once again engage in the same gutter politics that CBS news called the dirtiest in the nation just 2 years ago.”
Former Rep. Lincoln Davis (D-TN), who lost his reelection bid to DesJarlais in 2010, told the Post his campaign was sent a transcript of the call late in the campaign, but did not use it because Davis wasn’t able to verify it at the time.
However, Davis said DesJarlais’ ex-wife, Susan, later confirmed the information.
“She said he did it himself,” Davis said. “She said the doctor did. She said, ‘He recorded it and let me listen to it.’ She confirmed to me that Scott DesJarlais is the one who actually did the recording, and let her listen to it.”
According to the Post, DesJarlais called the woman as part of a failed attempt to repair his marriage.
“I’ve been going crazy,” “I mean, if Susan could talk to you, she’d tell you that I’ve been psychotic for months over this.”
DesJarlais and the woman subsequently argued over who initiated the affair and where to meet for the abortion procedure.
“If we need to go to Atlanta, or whatever, to get this solved and get it over with so we can get on with our lives, then let’s do it,” he said.
Court records indicated that DesJarlais confessed to having at least four affairs during the marriage. At one point, the couple had “a written agreement” allowing them to see other people. The DesJarlais’ divorce was finalized in 2001.
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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