In it, but not of it. TPM DC

NC Planned Parenthood Co-Founder Defends 'Women For Tillis' Role

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AP Photo / Brad Coville

Tillis is the lead candidate in the GOP primary in the race for Sen. Kay Hagan's (D-NC) Senate seat.

TPM on Wednesday highlighted that one of the co-chairs of the Women for Tillis Coalition is Dr. Mary Susan Fulghum, who helped found the Planned Parenthood Health Systems headquarters in Raleigh. In an interview later on Wednesday Fulghum defended her decision to join the campaign even though Tillis describes himself as "proudly Pro-Life" and helped usher through the state legislature a controversial anti-abortion bill.

That legislation, which had been tacked on to an unrelated motorcycle bill, required that centers that perform abortions meet the same standards as surgical centers. It also allowed health care providers to opt out of having to do an abortion if it's against the providers' religious belief. The legislation also blocked the government for paying for abortions (something that is already illegal under the federal Hyde Amendment), according to The Raleigh News & Observer.

In an interview with TPM on Wednesday Fulghum described her involvement with founding the Raleigh Planned Parenthood office.

"For one thing this was 35 years ago, 34 years ago, 1980. I was a practicing gynecologist at that time. We needed services for women, patients who were not covered by insurance but were not indigent and Planned Parenthood had an educational affiliate at that time which we were able to get in Raleigh," Fulghum said. "The doctors agreed to that and the gynecologists in that community agreed to that only if the particular affiliate would not do abortions and they have never done abortions in Raleigh and they never will so far as I know. So, yes I was on that group of people who founded that particular affiliate in Raleigh, have not been affiliated with that for years and years and years and that's the truth."

Fulghum said care on women's health is still an important issue for her.

"I still think access to medical services for women is very very important and that stands still," Fulghum said. "I still believe that very very strongly. And I think the Planned Parenthood in Raleigh does that very well."

TPM asked if Fulghum thought there was a contradiction in helping to establish the local Planned Parenthood and also supporting Tillis given his push on the motorcycle anti-abortion law. Critics of the law said the real motive of supporters of that law was to close women's health centers -- in fact, at least one clinic's license was suspended by the state following the law's passage.

"I don't really agree that it does limit, I don't think that it does limit access to contraceptive care so that's where we differ there. I don't think there's a contradiction," Fulghum said.

Fulghum also said she is more conservative than she was 34 years ago.

"In general I've become more conservative about a lot of things but I still believe strongly in good care for women so that stands," Fulghum said. "So I don't see that there's a contradiction so that's where I stand right now and I think Mr. Tillis is a good candidate so that's where I will stay, I will not resign, I will support him if I can."

About The Author

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Daniel Strauss is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. He was previously a breaking news reporter for The Hill newspaper and has written for Politico, Roll Call, The American Prospect, and Gaper's Block. He has also interned at Democracy: A Journal of Ideas and The New Yorker. Daniel grew up in Chicago and graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in History. At Michigan he helped edit Consider, a weekly opinion magazine. He can be reached at daniel@talkingpointsmemo.com.