Some Papers Won't Be Running 'Doonesbury' This Week

Political comic strip Doonesbury will feature an abortion storyline this week that focuses on the new Texas law requiring pregnant women to receive a transvaginal ultrasound and then wait 24 hours before having an abortion. The subject matter

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Political comic strip Doonesbury will feature an abortion storyline this week that focuses on the new Texas law requiring pregnant women to receive a transvaginal ultrasound and then wait 24 hours before having an abortion.

The subject matter has some papers opting to run "flashbacks" rather than the live cartoon.

In an interview, Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau says to ignore abortion-law debate would have been ‘comedy malpractice.’

I chose the topic of compulsory sonograms because it was in the news and because of its relevance to the broader battle over women's health currently being waged in several states. For some reason, the GOP has chosen 2012 to re-litigate reproductive freedom, an issue that was resolved decades ago. Why [Rick] Santorum, [Rush] Limbaugh et al. thought this would be a good time to declare war on half the electorate, I cannot say. But to ignore it would have been comedy malpractice.

What's in the strips?

Monday's strip (above) features Young woman arrives for her pre-termination sonogram, is told to take a seat in the shaming room, a middle-aged male state legislator will be right with her."

On Thursday features the same young woman who, "In the stirrups, she is telling a nurse that she doesn’t want a transvaginal exam. Doctor says “Sorry miss, you’re first trimester. The male Republicans who run Texas require that all abortion seekers be examined with a 10″ shaming wand.” She asks “Will it hurt?” Nurse says, “Well, it’s not comfortable, honey. But Texas feels you should have thought of that.” Doctor says, “By the authority invested in me by the GOP base, I thee rape.”'

Asked how he approached the storyline, Trudeau explains that the topic was fairly easy and straight-forward. He decided to write the perspective of the physician as that of "resigned outrage."

Texas's HB-15 isn't hard to explain: The bill says that in order for a woman to obtain a perfectly legal medical procedure, she is first compelled by law to endure a vaginal probe with a hard, plastic 10-inch wand. The World Health Organization defines rape as “physically forced or otherwise coerced penetration — even if slight — of the vulva or anus, using a penis, other body parts or an object.” You tell me the difference.

The Oregonian, issued a note to readers Friday, saying that Trudeau "went over the line of good taste and humor in penning a series on abortion using graphic language and images inappropriate for a comics page.” The Gainesville Sun and Ocala Star-Banner have also said that they will not run the strips this week.

The Freep links to Slate's Doonesbury strip, which is running the compulsory sonogram storyline. Is your area newspaper running the strips this week?

About Diane Sweet

Diane Sweet's picture
Senior Editor, Lives in a gerrymandered district in Michigan.

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