Did Congressman Tim Murphy Urge His Mistress to Have an Abortion?

Text messages presented in a news article appear to suggest Murphy asked Shannon Edwards to have an abortion.

Published Oct. 4, 2017

Updated Oct. 5, 2017
 (Amie Gillingham /
Image Via Amie Gillingham /

On 3 October 2017, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that text messages exchanged between Congressman Tim Murphy and Dr. Shannon Edwards, with whom he was allegedly having an affair, suggested Murphy had at one point urged her to have an abortion.

Murphy, a Republican who represents the 18th District of Pennsylvania in the U.S. House of Representatives and has a long record of voting for and supporting the restriction of abortion rights and access, has been accused of hypocrisy in the wake of the report. He is one of 182 co-sponsors of a bill that would ban abortion in cases where the gestational age of a fetus is 20 weeks or more. That bill passed the House on 3 October.

The Post-Gazette wrote:

A text message sent in January to U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy by a woman with whom he had an extra-marital relationship took him to task for an anti-abortion statement posted on Facebook from his office's public account.

"And you have 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," Shannon Edwards, a forensic psychologist in Pittsburgh with whom the congressman admitted last month to having a relationship, wrote to Mr. Murphy on Jan. 25, in the midst of an unfounded pregnancy scare.

A text from Mr. Murphy’s cell phone number that same day in response says, "I get what you say about my March for life messages. I've never written them. Staff does them. I read them and winced. I told staff don't write any more. I will."

So, according to the Post-Gazette's article, Edwards stated in a text message to Murphy that he had asked her to have an abortion in January 2017, and Murphy did not demur, take exception to, or express confusion at this allegation in his response.  

Murphy confirmed in September that he had had an extramarital affair with Edwards after an Allegheny County judge ruled that he should be deposed and the affair's existence should not be kept sealed pending divorce proceedings involving Edwards and her husband Jesse Sally, who alleges that the affair caused their marriage to end. Edwards denies that claim.

Both Edwards and Murphy have stated that their relationship has ended.

On 4 October 2017, after the Post-Gazette story broke, Rep. Murphy announced he had decided not to seek re-election after all. The day after that, as a result of the story, Murphy announced that he would be resigning from his post effective 21 October 2017.


Reed Ward, Paula.  "Rep. Tim Murphy, Popular With Pro-Life Movement, Urged Abortion in Affair, Texts Suggest."   Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  3 October 2017.

Associated Press.  "The Latest: Pro-Abortion Group Says Congressman a Hypocrite."   3 October 2017.

Reed Ward, Paula.  "Congressman Tim Murphy Issues Statement on Extramarital Affair."   Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  6 September 2017.


4 October 2017, 7:59 P.M.: Added update that Murphy does not intend to seek re-election.

5 October 2017, 1:31 P.M.: Added update that Murphy is now resigning.

Dan Mac Guill is a former writer for Snopes.