Political ad slams state Sen. Goolsby on abortion 'wand' law

cjarvis@newsobserver.comOctober 10, 2012 

State Sen. Thom Goolsby’s Democratic opponent in the general election, Deb Butler, has chosen a visually frank political advertisement to kick off her TV campaign against the Republican.

As her campaign says, it may be the first ever appearance of a trans-vaginal ultrasound wand in a political ad.

Goolsby, who represents New Hanover County, supported the bill last year that required women to receive ultrasound examinations before getting an abortion. The trans-vaginal wand is one method of conducting an ultrasound exam.

The new law doesn’t specify which kind of ultrasound method must be used; only that it be conducted four hours before an abortion, and that the image be described to the woman. The trans-vaginal method is used typically in early-stage pregnancy. It had not been considered controversial until Virginia legislators tried to require the wand in an abortion bill earlier this year, but that language was removed.

Butler, who is a lawyer, said Wednesday that she has researched the medical issues and learned that the wand could be used in a number of circumstances. The main issue is, she said, “I don’t think the legislature should be part of that conversation between a woman and her doctor.”

In her ad, Butler shows one of the devices and says, “Few would dare show you this, but this is Thom Goolsby’s contribution to women’s health.”

Butler says as a cervical cancer survivor she also criticizes Goolsby, a Wilmington lawyer, for voting to defund Planned Parenthood’s women’s health programs, which include cancer screenings and do not include abortions.

Goolsby, reached by phone Wednesday, read a prepared statement in response: “Never forget, she’s Occupy Wilmington’s lawyer. Her economic plans are so radical and devastating to our economy that she’s trying to shift attention away from this fact. I’ll continue to focus on jobs and the economy.”

The General Assembly passed the bill along party lines last year and then overrode the governor’s veto. However, the law is on hold because Planned Parenthood challenged in court the requirement that the ultrasound image be described in detail.

Paige Johnson, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina, said, “Last year’s legislative session was the worst on record for women in North Carolina. I applaud Deb Butler for holding her opponent accountable for voting against women and women’s health 100 percent of the time.”

Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the N.C. Values Coalition, which campaigned for the new law, pointed out that ultrasounds have been required before abortions since 1994, under administrative rules adopted by Gov. Jim Hunt. She said the new law provides women with additional information through the verbal description of the ultrasound.

“If ever there was a campaign ad that deserved a ‘fact check,’ this is it,” Fitzgerald said. “… I find it ironic that a Democrat candidate would attack a Republican senator on the basis of rules adopted under the administration of Democrat Gov. Jim Hunt.”

Jarvis: 919-829-4576

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