Pennsylvania Congressman Tim Murphy reportedly demanded that his mistress get an abortion, then told her that he neither writes nor agrees with anti-abortion rants on his social media page. Far from being an outlier, Murphy is just the latest in a string of anti-choice politicians who have allegedly demanded that their wives or mistresses—and sometimes both—get abortions. The trend suggests that anti-choicers have no problem with abortion if the right sort of woman seeks one. They’re really only interested in stopping abortions for women who need them most: poor women, young women, disenfranchised women.
In the mind of anti-choicers, the only good abortion is a Republican abortion. So yet again we see that anti-choice politics have nothing to do with life, and everything to do with controlling women.
A Sampling of Anti-Choice Politicians Linked to Abortions
In 2012, reports surfaced that Republican congressman Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), who was a doctor prior to his election, had an affair with his patient. In an attempt to conceal the affair, DesJarlais allegedly urged the woman to abort the pregnancy.
"You told me you'd have an abortion, and now we're getting too far along without one," DesJarlais said in a recorded phone call to the woman. According to his divorce testimony, DesJarlais also urged his ex-wife to seek two abortions before the couple was married. DesJarlais claims to be pro-life, and has supported a number of abortion bans.
In 1996, Karen Santorum, the wife of Rick Santorum, had an induced early delivery that killed the fetus. The procedure saved Santorum’s life, but legislation her husband has supported would have let her die.
When Clinic Protesters Seek Abortions
Republican lawmakers aren’t alone. If they didn’t dedicate their lives to constraining women’s lives, we might even sympathize with them. Sociologists have long studied the phenomenon of aggressive anti-choicers who support abortion rights when they’re the ones having the abortion.
Joyce Arthur collected numerous accounts from abortion providers of women who sought abortions before or after picketing outside a clinic. One doctor shared the story of a 16-year-old who regularly picketed the clinic. The girl returned to the clinic to protest the day after her own abortion.
Salon collected similar accounts. Doctors again reported that it was common to have a protester as a patient.
How an Unwanted Pregnancy Changes Perspectives
It may be that the ultimate failure of the anti-choice movement is one of empathy. Protesters outside of clinics think they can throw baby clothes at a woman and make parenting easy. When faced with the choice themselves, the weight feels more unbearable.
Pro-choicers can prove we are better than these people by not judging them, and by continuing to lobby for the right of all people to control their bodies—even when they think other women should not have that right.