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Anti-Choice Tennessee Rep. Accused of Pressuring Woman For Abortion Now Says She Was Never Pregnant

Robin Marty

Do anti-choice politicians really want to end abortion? Or just be in charge of deciding case by case when it is allowed?

Self-proclaimed “pro-life” Rep. Scott DesJarlais has been the subject of public scrutiny since Huffington Post released a transcript of a decade-old phone call in which the Tennessee congressman attempted to talk his mistress into getting an abortion, worrying that the pregnancy was becoming too far along to terminate.

In the transcript, DesJarlais, who has admitted he made the recording, urged the woman to end the pregnancy before it was too late:

“You told me you’d have an abortion, and now we’re getting too far along without one,” DesJarlais tells the woman at one point in the call while negotiating with her over whether he’ll reveal her identity to his wife.

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“Well, I didn’t want to be in your life either, but you lied to me about something that caused us to be in this situation, and that’s not my fault, that’s yours,” the doctor responds.

“Well, it’s [your] fault for sleeping with your patient,” the woman fires back.

After arguing for a bit about who came on to whom — with the woman seeming incredulous at DesJarlais’ interpretation that she made the first move — he gets back to the abortion.

“If we need to go to Atlanta, or whatever, to get this solved and get it over with so we can get on with our lives, then let’s do it,” DesJarlais says.

“Well, we’ve got to do something soon. And you’ve even got to admit that because the clock is ticking right?” he says at another point.

But now the congressman has said that although he may have urged her to end the pregnancy, she wasn’t actually pregnant in the first place, so no abortion occured.

Via the Washington Post:

Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a freshman Republican who opposes abortion, did not dispute a transcript of a recorded phone conversation in which he appears to urge the woman to terminate the pregnancy. His remarks came in an interview Thursday with WTN-FM host Ralph Bristol.

“I don’t mind telling people that there was no pregnancy, and no abortion,” said DesJarlais, who is seeking re-election. “But I also don’t mind telling people that this was a protracted two-year divorce back in 1999 and 2000. There was some difficult times, for sure.”

Is DesJarlais’ “dual position” on choice less hypocritical if the abortion never actually occurred? DesJarlais appears to be following a formula of misogynists: Setting the woman in question up as a liar and himself as the victim, just as he blamed her in the phone call for “lying to him about something that caused us to be in this situation.”

The real scandal here is the mindset that men have sex, but women are have to take “responsibility” for it—in whatever way men determine. 

According to men like DeJarlais, men are the hapless victims, and as such, apparently they get to decide case by case whether a woman should carry or terminate a pregnancy.  It’s not about ending abortion, it’s about men being able to control sex and reproduction.

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Reproductive rights are a public health issue. That's a fact.

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