“And what sort of lives do these people, who pose as being moral, lead themselves? My dear fellow, you forget that we are in the native land of the hypocrite.”
― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
In the United States, few issues ignite as much passion as the question of abortion rights. Several Republican politicians have staunchly championed pro-life stances, often grounding their beliefs in religious convictions and personal piety. But how well do their private actions align with these public pronouncements?
Let’s delve into the stories of three such politicians, whose personal choices have, at times, starkly contrasted with their public declarations.
A Twist in North Carolina: Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sheds light on the socially conservative views of North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R). A vocal opponent of abortion, Robinson has been known to emphasize the importance of “standing up for the most defenseless among us.” Furthermore, Robinson once passionately declared, “I’m not saying abortion is wrong cause I said so; it’s wrong cause God says so.” A sentiment undoubtedly shared by many of his supporters.
However, a turn of events in 1989, as revealed by The Charlotte Observer, paints a different picture. Robinson and his wife made the personal decision to undergo an abortion. In a candid admission on Facebook, Robinson conveyed the regret and emotional aftermath of this choice, providing a more nuanced perspective on his stance.
- Details: Robinson has often made headlines with his graphic anti-abortion commentary. But whispers turned to gasps when it was unveiled that behind closed doors, Robinson and his wife had taken the very path he publicly condemned. Early in their relationship, they had chosen to have an abortion.
- Public Stance: As documented by The Raleigh News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer, Robinson has made repeated public statements against abortion, often utilizing strong and graphic language to condemn the practice.
- Private Actions: Both publications report that, in stark contrast to his vehement public anti-abortion stance, Robinson and his wife made the personal decision to have an abortion early in their relationship.
- Consequence: The revelations led to significant public backlash, with many branding Robinson a hypocrite for his contrasting public and private positions.
- Voter Reaction: The ramifications of this revelation on Robinson’s political trajectory and public image are still unfolding.
The Murphy Dilemma: Actions and Words
Former U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy (R) from Pennsylvania is another name that recently dominated headlines. His tireless work on mental health issues in Congress and staunch anti-abortion politics were well-known. Yet, as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette revealed, Murphy found himself embroiled in a scandal that seemed at odds with his public image.
While engaged in an extramarital affair, texts surfaced suggesting Murphy urged his paramour, Shannon Edwards, to consider an abortion during a pregnancy scare. Though she wasn’t pregnant, the revelation shook his supporter base and questioned the sincerity of his public proclamations. The fallout was swift, with Murphy choosing to resign from Congress, leaving many to contemplate the chasm between public statements and private actions.
- Details: Known for his fervent anti-abortion views, secret text messages exposed a riveting tale: Murphy had urged his mistress to undergo an abortion amid fears she was pregnant. This explosive revelation came hot on the heels of an already scorching expose about Murphy’s extramarital dalliance. The irony was not lost on the public — a prominent abortion critic caught in such a damning scenario.
- Public Stance: Outspoken opponent of abortion, pushing anti-abortion politics.
- Private Actions: As reported by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Murphy allegedly urged a woman with whom he had an extramarital relationship to have an abortion.
- Consequence: Murphy decided to resign just days after the news surfaced.
- Response: U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan acknowledged Murphy’s resignation, noting his tireless work in Congress, especially concerning mental health.
DesJarlais: A Tennessee Tale
Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R) from Tennessee has been an unwavering voice against abortion. Yet, as the Washington Post and The Hill reported, his personal history stands in contrast to his public posturing. A transcript of a phone call emerged where DesJarlais appeared to pressure a woman, with whom he had an affair, to get an abortion. This revelation was compounded by details of past actions, including reports of urging his ex-wife to undergo two abortions.
The aftershocks of these revelations rippled through Tennessee politics, with many questioning the consistency of DesJarlais’ beliefs with his behaviors. While some defended the Congressman, others expressed disillusionment with the discrepancy between his pro-life advocacy and personal decisions.
- Details: In a stark revelation, phone records unveiled that DesJarlais had an affair with a patient, adding another layer of controversy. But the real bombshell? The staunchly anti-abortion congressman pressured this very patient into getting an abortion. In another eyebrow-raising revelation, DesJarlais supported not one, but two abortions for his former wife.
- Public Stance: Firmly pro-life, consistently voting for anti-abortion legislation.
- Private Actions: The Washington Post reported that DesJarlais, during his divorce proceedings in 2001, supported his ex-wife’s decision to have two abortions.
- Consequence: While DesJarlais confirmed the abortions, he stated they occurred because of medical concerns.
- Voter Reaction: Despite the revelations, DesJarlais was re-elected in subsequent elections, showcasing a potential dissonance between public sentiment and personal behavior.
- Bajpai, A. (2022, March 24). NC’s Mark Robinson says abortion was ‘hardest decision’ he and his wife have made. The News & Observer. Retrieved from https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article259721180.html#storylink=cpy
- Belz, K., & Carroll, C. (2012, November 15). Scott DesJarlais supported ex-wife’s abortions, slept with patients, divorce transcript shows. Times Free Press. Retrieved from https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/nov/15/scott-desjarlais-supported-abortions-slept-patient/
- Brodey, S. (2022, June 30). Will the ‘Pro-Life’ GOP Rep Who Paid for an Abortion Ever Tweet Again? The Daily Beast. Retrieved from https://www.thedailybeast.com/will-the-pro-life-gop-rep-scott-desjarlais-who-paid-for-an-abortion-ever-tweet-again?ref=scroll
- DeBonis, M. (2017, October 5). Rep. Tim Murphy resigns from Congress after allegedly asking woman to have abortion. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/rep-tim-murphy-resigns-from-congress-after-allegedly-asking-woman-to-have-abortion/2017/10/05/7a68a414-aa08-11e7-850e-2bdd1236be5d_story.html
- Doubek, J., & Taylor, J. (2017, October 5). Anti-Abortion Rep. Tim Murphy Will Resign After Report On Abortion Request. NPR. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/10/05/555798758/anti-abortion-rep-tim-murphy-wont-seek-re-election-after-report-on-abortion-requ
- McAuliff, M. (2012, October 10). Scott DesJarlais, Pro-Life Republican Congressman And Doctor, Pressured Mistress Patient To Get Abortion. HuffPost. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/scott-desjarlais-abortion-pro-life_n_1953136
- Potter, C. (2017, October 5). Tim Murphy resigns after pressure mounts following texts on abortion. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved from https://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-nation/2017/10/05/Tim-Murphy-resigns-congressman-pennsylvania-abortion-texts-congress-paul-ryan/stories/201710050206
- Specht, P., Anderson, B., & Leslie, L. (2022, March 22). ‘It was wrong’: North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson says he paid for abortion in 1989. WRAL. Retrieved from https://www.wral.com/story/it-was-wrong-north-carolina-lt-gov-mark-robinson-says-he-paid-for-abortion-in-1989/20200461/