Last week, Congressman Tim Murphy (R, PA-18) resigned after allegations he pressured his mistress to have an abortion when they feared she was pregnant.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was the first to obtain the text messages. The following is from Shannon Edwards, the forensic psychologist with whom Mr. Murphy was having an affair:
“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.”
While the reasons for his resignation are more complex and numerous than this single allegation, this story has created a media firestorm around the issue of abortion. Congressman Murphy claimed to be pro-life, so the cries of hypocrisy are loud and growing, and it looks like an embarrassing story for the pro-life movement.
Congressman Murphy, in addition to simply claiming to be pro-life, had an impressive resume. He has a 100% pro-life voting record from the Family Research Council, was a member of the Pro-Life Caucus, and was a co-sponsor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. He also published several pro-life statements on his Facebook page (though he later claimed they were written by staff and caused him to “wince” when he read them).
Like any large movement, we’ve weathered storms like this before, and we’ll move beyond this story as well. But as we think about this and rally to move forward, there are a few things we think are important to keep in mind.
Our culture makes it easy for men to hide behind abortion as a way of saving face and reputation in their workplace and community. Abortion promises a quick fix, an easy out. It’s a procedure that promises freedom from obligation, shame, and responsibility.
For women, abortion promises all the same things but delivers the opposite. For many, many women, abortion is a secret they then carry for the rest of their lives. It’s shame that hangs over their heads, and it’s the entry into a lifetime of guilt and regret.
Unfortunately, it’s not an isolated story. 64% of women who’ve had abortions say they felt pressured into the decision. Backed into a corner with seemingly no way out, they’re pressured into making a decision many of them don’t want.
This happens to women inside and outside of the Church, in conservative circles and outside them, and inside of committed relationships and outside them. And while many men do eventually regret their abortions, many simply want an out.
This is why our movement has to be more than labels. It has to be more than slogans and talking points and agendas. If it is going to succeed, it must be about people and about relationships.
Because the reality is, the abortion movement has always been about men. It was started by men when Larry Lader wrote a fabricated “history” of abortion and published it as truth. It was continued by men when Lader and Dr. Bernard Nathanson formed NARAL (National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, as it was originally named) and strategically recruited women and organizations, convincing them along the way that legalized abortion would be better for women.
Abortion was about men when all the Supreme Court justices on the bench for the Roe v. Wade case were men; Henry Blackmun cited Lader’s book no fewer than seven times in his majority opinion. Abortion was about men when Hugh Hefner advocated for it in his Playboy magazine for the first time in 1965 (and every time after that).
Men in the abortion movement have always seen the benefit of abortion to them and have picked up the banner to advocate for its advancement. Ironically, this has always been under the guise of advocating for women’s rights, women’s choices, and women’s bodily autonomy.
And in its wake, the abortion rights movement has left devastation for women all along the way.
This is the history of the “pro-choice” movement and the heritage our culture has inherited as a result. Abortion allows men to literally get away with murder.
We denounce as a movement individuals who are pro-life in name only. His brazen disregard for the values of the movement place him squarely outside of it. Those who use the label “pro-life” to advance their own agendas and causes are no more a part of our movement than those without the label.
They don’t stand for women, and they only hinder our cause of helping and supporting women facing difficult pregnancy decisions.
Despite his record, his label, and his membership, Congressman Murphy isn’t pro-life because he doesn’t understand that a fundamental pillar of the pro-life movement has to be respect for women.
His attempts to hide his extramarital affair and the scare of a resulting pregnancy demonstrate once again that abortion benefits men. It allows them to have relationships with women free of attachment and commitment while pursuing a lifestyle that devalues life.
And there is no room for such men in our movement.
Let’s join together to make sure women in unexpected pregnancies are supported and loved so they can make life-affirming choices for their children.
We’re asking pro-lifers around the country to sign our pledge to help us end the pressure surrounding abortion once and for all.