Incumbent 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 supported the bill last year that required women receive ultrasound examinations before getting an abortion. The trans-vaginal wand is one method of conducting an ultrasound exam, and it is controversial for its intrusiveness.
The new law doesn’t specify which kind of ultrasound method must be done; only that it be conducted four hours before an abortion, and that the image be described to the woman. The trans-vaginal method is typically used in early-stage pregnancy. Last year, Virginia legislators tried to require the wand in a similar bill, but that language was removed.
Butler, who is a lawyer, said Wednesday that she has researched the medical issues and learned 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.”
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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.”
“He promised us his first priority would be jobs, but instead he’s following us into the doctor’s office,” adds Butler.
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 it has been challenged in court over the requirement that the ultrasound image be described in detail.
Paige Johnson, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Central N.C., 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.”