POLITICS

Scott DesJarlais: I'm Not 'Perfect,' Won't Resign Over Abortion Scandal

In this Nov. 21, 2011 photo, Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., speaks at an event at the General Motors plant in Spring Hill, T
In this Nov. 21, 2011 photo, Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., speaks at an event at the General Motors plant in Spring Hill, Tenn. A phone transcript emerged on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, appearing to recount how the freshman congressman seeking re-election on a pro-life platform urged his pregnant mistress to get an abortion more than a decade ago. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig)

Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) won't be going away unless his constituents vote him out, he told the Knoxville News Sentinel Wednesday.

Giving his first public comments since the latest report on his sordid 2000 divorce proceedings -- which revealed that he had supported two abortions for his then-wife -- the self-proclaimed staunchly anti-abortion DesJarlais suggested that he regretted his actions but didn't believe they warranted his resignation, especially after his recent reelection victory.

"I am human," he told the News Sentinel. "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."

Political foes have attacked DesJarlais based on his messy divorce since his first election in 2010, when it was publicly revealed that he had once put a gun in his mouth and threatened suicide while distraught over the impending split. DesJarlais denied those reports, despite the fact that he'd once testified they were true, and won the election.

HuffPost's Michael McAuliff also reported earlier this year that DesJarlais, a doctor, had pressured one of his patients to abort a pregnancy that she said was the result of their affair. The congressman has since suggested that she was not pregnant and that he suspected that all along. DesJarlais also had affairs with other patients to whom he'd prescribed pain pills, as well as intimate relationships with co-workers while serving as chief of staff at a Tennessee hospital.

While DesJarlais' camp has been clear that he has no plans to step aside -- the congressman even told the News Sentinel that he would run again in 2014 -- Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) this week said that DesJarlais should consider how effectively he can represent his district while serving under such scrutiny.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly listed Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam as a Democrat. He is a Republican.

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