A decade before calling himself “a consistent supporter of pro-life values,” Tennessee physician and Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais supported his ex-wife’s decision to get two abortions before their marriage, according to the congressman’s sworn testimony during his divorce trial.
Obtained by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the couple’s 2001 trial transcript also confirms DesJarlais had sexual relationships with at least two patients, three coworkers and a drug representative while he was chief of staff at Grandview Medical Center in Jasper, Tenn. During one affair with a female patient, DesJarlais prescribed her drugs, gave her an $875 watch and bought her a plane ticket to Las Vegas, records show.
DesJarlais spokesman Robert Jameson did not respond to requests for comment. The attorney for the congressman's ex-wife said that at this point she does not have any comments to issue on her ex-husband's testimony.
The transcript corroborates accounts given to the Times Free Press in October by one of the patients who had a sexual relationship with DesJarlais. The newspaper continues to grant her anonymity, along with all the women due to the nature of the testimony.
DesJarlais, a family-values conservative who rode 2010’s tea party wave to Washington, testified his ex-wife’s earlier abortion stemmed from medical concerns.
“... [She] was on an experimental drug called Lupron and was not supposed to have gotten pregnant. There were potential risks. It was a therapeutic,” he said.
DesJarlais backed a second abortion after she returned from a military stint in Saudi Arabia a few years before they married in 1995.
“[It] was after she had gotten back from Desert Storm and things were not going well between us and it was a mutual decision,” he said.
The general practitioner reflected on both abortions in his testimony in Marion County Chancery Court.
“I don’t think that it was easy for either one of us,” he said. “I think it was a very difficult and poor choice and I think that there are probably regrets both ways.”
Eleven years after his testimony, DesJarlais’ official website states “all life should be cherished and protected.” The physician-turned-politician has proven himself a reliable vote for anti-abortion legislation, scoring the National Right to Life’s coveted 100 percent rating.