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Gov, lawmakers vary on ultrasound-abortion fight

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

GOP legislative leaders and fellow Republican Gov. Pat McCrory are taking opposing sides on whether to maintain a court fight over a law requiring abortion providers to describe an ultrasound to women seeking the procedure.

McCrory's office issued a statement Saturday saying he doesn't think the fight to keep that part of a 2011 state law is worth the cost. McCrory's statement noted that the Jan. 17 ruling by U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles did not bar other parts of the law requiring that women receive information about the likely stage of fetal development and the availability of abortion alternatives.

House Speaker Thom Tills, R-Mecklenburg, disagreed.

"It's an important law that saves lives and the ruling should be appealed," Tillis, who is running for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination, wrote on Twitter on Saturday.

He and Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, issued a statement Monday saying they wanted to contest the ruling by Eagles, who was nominated by President Barack Obama.

"We expect the attorney general to quickly move forward with an appeal of this provision," their statement said.

Attorney General Roy Cooper hasn't said whether his office will appeal the ruling. State attorneys are consulting with legislative leaders and McCrory's office ahead of a decision on whether to start an appeal, Cooper spokeswoman Noelle Talley wrote in an email Monday.

The Republican-led General Assembly last year also gave itself the authority to defend laws it passed if Cooper does not fully defend them in court. The law gives the state House speaker and Senate leader the option to hire lawyers to defend a state statute or constitutional provision rather than relying on Cooper.

Eagles' ruling described part of the 2011 "Woman's Right to Know Act" as a violation of constitutional free speech rights. The provision required abortion providers to place an ultrasound image next to a pregnant woman so she can view it, describe its features and offer the patient the chance to listen to the heartbeat. The law required abortion providers to describe the dimensions of the embryo or fetus and the presence of external members and internal organs if they were present and viewable.

The patient was not required to watch the display or listen to the explanation.

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