Tim Murphy quits Congress amid claims he pressured woman to have abortion

Ben Jacobs in Washington
Tim Murphy. The resignation will likely mark the end of his career. Photograph: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Representative Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania will resign from Congress after claims that the anti-abortion Republican had urged a woman he was having an extramarital affair with to have an abortion.

In the aftermath of reports about the affair, as well as allegations of abusive conduct against members of his staff, Murphy had initially said that he would retire from Congress at the end of his term on Wednesday.

However, in a statement released by Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday, it was announced that Murphy would resign before the end of the month.

Ryan said: “This afternoon I received a letter of resignation from Congressman Tim Murphy, effective October 21. It was Dr Murphy’s decision to move on to the next chapter of his life, and I support it. 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.”

The married Republican congressman had admitted in September that he had been involved in an affair with another woman.

However, it was only when after the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on Tuesday that he had allegedly urged the woman to have an abortion when he believed she was pregnant, citing text messages, that Murphy’s personal conduct started to create political issues for fellow Republicans.

In addition to the affair, the Post-Gazette also reported on a memo that Murphy’s chief of staff had sent to the Congressman describing “ongoing and ever more pronounced pattern of sustained inappropriate behavior” from him.

Murphy’s resignation will spark a special election in his south-western Pennsylvania congressional district. The district, comprising much of suburban Pittsburgh as well parts of coal country, has trended increasingly Republican in recent years and Trump won it in 2016 by almost 20 points. Murphy himself had not faced a re-election challenge since 2012. However, Democrats have over-performed in special elections since Trump took office in January and the district’s ancestral Democratic roots could make it competitive.

The resignation will likely mark the end of Murphy’s political career. The Republican was first elected to Congress after redistricting in 2002. Murphy, who had practiced as a psychologist before entering politics, had long been a vocal advocate on mental health issues in Congress.