Newly published text messages suggest that Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) violated his own pro-life activism by urging the woman with whom he had an affair to have an abortion. The woman complained when his Facebook account posted a pro-life statement against early 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,” Shannon Edwards, a Pittsburg-based forensic psychologist whom Murphy admitted to having an affair with, said in a text message to the congressman on Jan. 25.
Murphy’s response did not deny his pushing for Edwards to get an abortion. “I get what you say about my March for life messages,” a responding text from the congressman’s phone number said. “I’ve never written them. Staff does them. I read them and winced. I told staff don’t write any more. I will.”
Murphy has received praise from various pro-life and family values organizations, such as the Family Research Council and LifePAC. He is a member of the House Pro-Life Caucus and a cosponsor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which the House was scheduled to vote on Tuesday. The bill would ban abortion after 20 weeks, except in cases of rape, incest, or when a pregnancy poses a threat to the life of the mother.
The text message over abortion was prompted by a January 24, 2017 Facebook post on Murphy’s account. “The United States is one of just seven countries worldwide that permits elective abortion more than halfway through pregnancy (beyond 20 weeks). It is a tragic shame that America is leading the world in discarding and disregarding the most vulnerable,” the post read.
Murphy’s Facebook post mentioned that he sponsored and voted for a bill preventing the use of federal funds to pay for abortions and said he hoped that “we will once again be a nation committed to honoring life from the moment of conception and ensuring American taxpayer dollars are never spent to end a life before it even begins.”
News of the affair dropped in court proceedings in a divorce case between Shannon Edwards and her husband, Dr. Jesse Sally, a sports medicine physician. Sally sought to depose the congressman as part of the divorce proceedings.
Murphy admitted the affair on September 6, writing that he had had “an affair with a personal friend.” He first met Edwards when working on his mental health reform legislation following the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. “I was not looking for a relationship with anyone,” he wrote. “But we formed a true bond. It grew deep and fast. It became love. It became in love.”
According to court records, Edwards’ relationship with Murphy began professionally in the fall of 2015, and developed into a romance months later. Edwards alleged that there was no physical intimacy with the congressman until May 2016, after she and her husband had technically separated. Dr. Sally, however, alleged that the relationship with Murphy and his wife began in February 2016.
The abortion Murphy urged on Edwards resulted from a false pregnancy scare, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which originally reported the text messages. There is no suggestion that Edwards’ potential abortion would have violated a 20-week abortion ban. Even so, it is rather inconvenient for a pro-life champion like Murphy to have such a scandal.