DesJarlais won reelection earlier this month, despite the campaign-season revelation that, over a decade ago, he pressured a mistress to have an abortion. In October, he had explained that story by saying he didn’t believe his mistress was really pregnant at the time, and had urged her to get an abortion to call her bluff.
But a 679-page court transcript from his divorce trial in 2001, released in the days after Election Day, made public much more about DesJarlais’ past — including the fact that his first wife had two abortions. In an interview with The Knoxville News Sentinel this week, DesJarlais said he never intentionally misled voters about his past, and has no plans to resign.
‘I am human,’ he told the paper. ‘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.’
According to the News Sentinel, the court document states that DesJarlais’ first wife had her first abortion when she was on an experimental drug that raised potential risks with the pregnancy. The second abortion occurred when the pair were having problems in their relationship. DesJarlais told the paper his views on abortion have evolved, and that charges of hypocrisy were unfair.