Slutty slut sluts should keep their legs closed if they aren’t prepared for an unwanted pregnancy resulting from sex. But the rules are a little different, obviously, if you are a conservative lawmaker. Fret not if you co-sponsored the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, the Life at Conception Act, and numerous other pieces of anti-abortion legislation. Because if it’s you who was actually having the sex, all those other rules and morals and condemnations don’t apply. Especially if you’re married and the person who got pregnant is your mistress. Then abortion is totally okay. Encouraged even!
This is the story of Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a doctor and Tea Party-backed Republican in Tennessee, who is currently running for reelection, and it’s based on the transcript obtained by Huffington Post of a 2000 phone call between DesJarlais and his pregnant mistress. (Several sources say he recorded the call himself, which I don’t understand.) According to the call’s transcript, the woman, whom he met when she came to him as a patient at his medical practice, is asking the supposedly anti-abortion pol to accompany her while she has an abortion.
“You told me you’d have an abortion and now we’re getting too far along without one,” DesJarlais says. They continue talking and the woman eventually says, “You told me you would go with me and everything.” He responds, “I said if I could, I would, didn’t I? And I will try. If I can [find] time, you’re saying that you will.”
Later on in the call, Rep. DesJarlais suggests he and his mistress may need to travel outside of TN to another state to obtain an abortion if the limits are so restricted in their state: “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. … Well, we’ve got to do something soon. And you’ve even got to admit that because the clock is ticking right?”
DesJarlais and his wife Susan DesJarlais divorced within a year after the call; in court papers, he confessed to at least four affairs.
I don’t expect anyone to be shocked that politicians are hypocrites. DesJarlais isn’t the first and the won’t be the last. But it enrages me — genuinely fills me with anger in my gut — that he wants to restrict other women from making reproductive choices about their own bodies when he’s encouraging his mistress to do that very thing. As blogger Amanda Marcotte put it on Raw Story:
I basically assume all these rich Republican dudes who oppose abortion rights aren’t actually against abortion itself. They just assume, correctly, that if abortion is banned, they will have enough money and connections to scare up a discreet abortion provider to cover up their own indiscretions.
To me, this DesJarlais transcript epitomizes two things. One is that some people oppose legal abortion without giving any thought, apparently, to precisely why abortion needs to remain legal and why women need to have access to it.
The other thing this DesJarlais case epitomizes is the utter meaninglessness of family values rhetoric. But in a statement to HuffPost, DesJarlais dismissed the phone call transcript as “desperate personal attacks” by his opponent — as opposed, say, very relevant information that directly contradicts his campaign platform. (Language may not be his strong suit.)
Life is so precious at conception … except when it’s the life growing inside your mistress.