October 17, 2012 — Conservative groups in Tennessee are urging Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) to resign after a taped phone call surfaced in which he tells a woman he had a relationship with to obtain an abortion, the New York Times' "The Caucus" reports (Weisman, "The Caucus," New York Times, 10/16).
The tape was recorded 12 years ago, when DesJarlais was a practicing physician and going through a divorce. He has acknowledged having an affair with the woman in the tape, who was his former patient, but said she was never pregnant and that no abortion took place.
DesJarlais last week said he raised the abortion issue in an attempt to get the woman to admit she was not pregnant (Carroll/Sher, Chattanooga Times Free Press, 10/16).
Lloyd Daugherty, chair of the Tennessee Conservative Union, said his group has reached out to other organizations to call for DesJarlais' resignation. Daugherty said, "He got elected on the same issue that he obviously does not have the same personal commitment to," adding, "It's the hypocrisy."
However, Daugherty noted that conservatives' fear of emboldening Democrats could hold back efforts to pressure DesJarlais to step down ("The Caucus," New York Times, 10/16).
Democrats for Life of America on Monday also condemned DesJarlais, saying that the tape "disqualifies him from claiming the pro-life label" (Chattanooga Times Free Press, 10/16).
In addition, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group, filed a complaint against DesJarlais for having sex with a patient, which is a violation of Tennessee law ("The Caucus," New York Times, 10/16).