Embattled Tenn. lawmaker vows to remain in office
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Rep. Scott DesJarlais has told a newspaper that his views about abortion have evolved after previously supporting his ex-wife's decisions to abort pregnancies during their marriage.
The Republican physician from Jasper who now opposes abortion also says he has no plans to resign over revelations about past relationships with patients.
DesJarlais told The Knoxville News Sentinel that he deeply regrets past relationships with multiple women, including patients and co-workers.
He made his first extensive remarks since divorce records from 2001 were released that substantiated claims by Democratic opponents that he urged a lover to get an abortion and used a gun to intimidate his ex-wife.
DesJarlais was re-elected on Nov. 6. He told the newspaper that he intends to run again in two years and he hopes that voters will weigh his job in Congress and not judge him on his past.
“I am human,” he said during an interview with the newspaper. “I don't think I ever put myself out there to be somebody that was perfect. I put myself out there as somebody who wanted to serve the public.”
He added, “I will serve as long as the people want me to serve.”
In court records, DesJarlais said the first abortion with his ex-wife occurred when she was on an experimental drug that created potential risks for the pregnancy. He said the second abortion occurred while the couple was having problems in the relationship.