U.S. congressman Tim Murphy to resign after reports he urged mistress to get abortion
Pro-life rep's affair became public during mistress's divorce proceedings
U.S. Republican Congressman Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania, an anti-abortion lawmaker who allegedly urged his mistress to have an abortion when he thought she was pregnant, is resigning from Congress.
"[I will] take personal time to seek help as my family and I continue to work through our personal difficulties," Murphy, who is in his eighth term, said in a statement Wednesday.
Murphy's statement comes a day after a local newspaper published text messages indicating that the congressman, who opposes abortion, asked his mistress to get an abortion when he thought she was pregnant.
Murphy had recently acknowledged his affair with Shannon Edwards, which became public as a result of her divorce proceedings.
Murphy represents a safe Republican district. He has focused on mental health issues in the House.
On Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said it obtained text messages between Murphy and Edwards. According to the paper, Jan. 25 text message from Edwards to Murphy said:
"]You had] 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."
A text message from Murphy's number in response said the staff was responsible for his anti-abortion messages: "I've never written them. Staff does them. I read them and winced. I told staff don't write any more."
Edwards, it turned out, wasn't pregnant.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, Republican from Wisconsin, announced Murphy's plans to leave Congress, effective Oct. 21.
"It was Dr. Murphy's decision to move on to the next chapter of his life, and I support it," Ryan said in a statement. "We thank him for his many years of tireless work on mental health issues here in Congress and his service to the country as a naval reserve officer."
Ryan said he supports the resignation.
"I've spoken to Tim quite a bit the last few days," Ryan told reporters at an event in Chestertown, Maryland. "I think it's appropriate he move on to the next chapter in his life."
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is empowered to set a date for a special election to fill the seat.
Murphy's spokeswoman had no comment on the report.
On Tuesday, the House approved Republican legislation that would make it a crime to perform an abortion after 20 weeks of fetal development. Murphy, a member of the House Pro-Life Caucus, is among its co-sponsors. He avoided the media in Washington after voting for the legislation, and efforts by reporters to talk to him were unsuccessful.
The bill faces certain defeat in the Senate, where Democrats have enough votes to kill it.