Hypocrisy, thy name is GOP. And there may be no bigger hypocrite in the entire Republican party than Tennessee congressman Scott DesJarlais.
DesJarlais might have been just another back bench flunky, doing the bidding of John Boehner, and other Republican leaders, except for a very public incident he was involved in some years ago. You see, Dr. DesJarlais has a history of encouraging women in his life to have abortions. One of those women was his mistress.
In his other life outside of congress, DesJarlais is a family practice physician in Jasper, Tennessee. In 2001, DesJarlais divorced his wife, and the details about his personal life that came out in court are the stuff that soap opera scripts are made of.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that when DesJarlais was chief of the medical staff at Grandview Hospital in Jasper, he “had sexual relationships with at least two patients, three coworkers and a drug representative.”
The court transcript of DesJarlais’ divorce hearing reveals that, in 2000, he pressured a 24-year-old patient who had been his mistress to have an abortion. In court, DesJarlais’ attorney tried to get the woman to admit that she had never been pregnant. “Yes, I was [pregnant],” the woman replied to the charge. She refused to answer further questions about the pregnancy, except to say, “I don’t have a child by Dr. DesJarlais and that’s a personal thing.” She added, “I was pretty much sure that he was the father of this child.”
His ex-wife also had two abortions. One, he claimed, was for “therapeutic reasons,” due to a drug she was taking. The other occurred simply because things were not going well in their marriage.
Now, DesJarlais says that “all life should be protected.”
You would think that someone with the history of Scott DesJarlais would have some appreciation of the circumstances that cause some women to seek abortions. But no. DesJarlais is a Republican. And the motto of the Republican party seems to have become “don’t do as I do, do as I say.” In that spirit, DesJarlais’ website says that “all life should be cherished and protected.”
So it should come as no surprise to anybody that DesJarlais was one of 242 members of the House of Representatives who voted in favor of a bill that would outlaw most abortions after the twentieth week of pregnancy. DesJarlais spokesman Robert Jameson said that the congressman was “proud to vote in favor of this legislation.” Jameson also pointed out that DesJarlais has a 100 percent “pro-life” voting record.
Voters in DesJarlais’ congressional district don’t seem to have a problem with his past, as they have seen fit to return him to congress twice since he was first elected in 2010. In 2014, he narrowly escaped defeat in a primary, beating his challenger state senator Jim Tracy by a mere 38 votes. “Maybe he’s [DesJarlais] going to get a free ride at this point,” observed Vanderbilt University political science professor Bruce Oppenheimer.
DesJarlais’ success seems to prove that you can get away with anything in your personal life, as long as you tow the Republican party line, and say what voters want to hear. And a little Jesus doesn’t hurt, either, especially in places like Tennessee. DesJarlais’ biography on his website indicates that he, and his family, are “active” in the Epiphany Episcopal Church. Jesus never mentioned abortions, but DesJarlais probably doesn’t want to be reminded about what Jesus said about divorce.
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons