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GOP Rep. Tim Murphy won’t seek reelection after reports he asked woman to get abortion

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's subcommittee on oversight and investigations, at a hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014. On Wednesday, Murphy said he would retire at the end of his current term. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania, an opponent of abortion, will not be seeking reelection at the end of his current term, ending speculation about his future a day after a news report claimed the married Republican had asked a woman with whom he had an extramarital affair to get an abortion.

“After discussions with my family and staff, I have come to the decision that I will not seek reelection to Congress at the end of my current term,” Murphy, 65, said in a statement.

“I plan to spend my remaining months in office continuing my work as the national leader on mental health care reform, as well as issues affecting working families in southwestern Pennsylvania,” he added.

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Murphy first publicly admitted in early September to having an affair with Shannon Edwards, a woman half his age, a revelation that dealt a blow to his reelection prospects in 2018. Murphy was elected to the House in November 2002 and is currently serving his eighth term.

In a Jan. 25 text message obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Edwards told Murphy he had “zero issue posting your pro-life stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week when we thought that was one of the options.”

According to the paper, a text response from Murphy's cellphone number the same day said his staff was responsible for the antiabortion messages: "I've never written them. Staff does them. I read them and winced. I told staff don't write any more. I will."

Murphy was a co-sponsor of a Republican bill approved Tuesday that bans most abortions after 20 weeks of fetal development.

Murphy is a clinical psychologist who helped write a major overhaul of mental-health programs that Congress passed last year. He has pushed for improvements in mental-health-care policy since the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in Connecticut in December 2012, and his Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama as part of a larger health-care reform package.

Murphy is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and currently chairs its oversight and investigations subcommittee. He is also a member of the House Pro-Life Caucus. 

"While I am extremely disappointed in the circumstances surrounding Congressman Murphy's retirement, I remain confident that PA-18 will remain under Republican control next year," National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers  said in a statement Wednesday.

Murphy represents a district in southwestern Pittsburgh that is solidly Republican. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates it as having an 11-point Republican lean. The district voted for Donald Trump by 19 points over Hillary Clinton, 58 to 39 percent, in the 2016 presidential election.

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