Doonesbury Strip on Abortion Rankles Some Newspapers

Vigilante Man
Vigilante Man

Truth is hurtful sometimes.

A national syndicate will offer replacement “Doonesbury” comic strips to newspapers that don’t want to run a series that uses graphic imagery to lampoon a Texas law requiring women to have an ultrasound before an abortion, executives said Friday.

A handful of newspapers say they would not run this week’s series, while several others said the strips would move from the comics to opinion pages or Web sites only. Many already publish the strip by Garry Trudeau on editorial pages, given that its sarcastic swipes at society’s foibles have a history of giving headaches to newspaper editors.

(click here to continue reading ‘Doonesbury’ Strip on Abortion Rankles Some Newspapers –

The always essential media watcher Jim Romenesko has more details about the content, or you can always just read the comics yourself at My local newspaper uses the truncated version of the Sunday strip, so I’ve long just read Doonesbury at the source.

Monday: 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.

Tuesday: He asks her if this is her first visit to the center, she replies no, that she’s been using the contraceptive services for some time. He says, “I see. Do your parents know you’re a slut?”

Wednesday: A different male is reading to her about the transvaginal exam process.

Thursday: 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.”

Friday: Doctor is explaining that the Texas GOP requires her to have an intimate encounter with her fetus. He begins describing it to her. Last panel, he says, “Shall I describe it’s hopes and dreams?” She replies, “If it wants to be the next Rick Perry, I’ve made up my mind.”

Saturday: Back in the reception area, she asks where she goes now for the actual abortion. Receptionist tells her there’s a 24-hour waiting period: “The Republican Party is hoping you get caught in a shame spiral and change your mind.” Last panel: She says, “A final indignity.” Receptionist replies, “Not quite. Here’s your bill.”

(click here to continue reading Some newspapers won’t be running next week’s “Doonesbury” strips | JIMROMENESKO.COM.)

The Washington Post interviewed Gary Trudeau:

Comic Riffs caught up with Trudeau to ask him about how he approached the abortion series, how his syndicate supported the idea — and whether the nation’s comics editors have grown more or less skittish about controversial content on “the funny pages.”

[Note: Some language that follows merits a “PG” rating.]

MICHAEL CAVNA: In 1985, you — in apparent agreement with Lee Salem [at then-Universal Press Syndicate] — decided to pull a week of abortion-related strips around the film “The Silent Scream.” So what’s different now? Obviously the angle and execution and point of satiric attack vary some, but what’s changed that spurred you to create an abortion narrative in this climate?

GARRY TRUDEAU: In my 42 years with UPS, the “Silent Scream” week was the only series that the syndicate ever strongly objected to. Lee felt that it would be deeply harmful to the feature, and that we would lose clients permanently. They had supported me through so much for so long, I felt obliged to go with their call.

Such was not the case this week. There was no dispute over contents, just some discussion over whether to prepare a substitute week for editors who requested one. [We did.]

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.

…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.

(click here to continue reading THE ‘DOONESBURY’ INTERVIEW: Garry Trudeau says to ignore abortion-law debate would have been ‘comedy malpractice’ – Comic Riffs – The Washington Post.)

3 thoughts on “Doonesbury Strip on Abortion Rankles Some Newspapers

  1. John Cutting says:

    I like to call this the “Old Paradigm,” and I weep internally for all the horrid emotions sure to be felt by all concerned. When I suggest ‘old paradigm,’ I’m thinking in terms of Texas wanting to urinate on its citizens – as if marking its vast territory most efficiently. I know that’s a graphic mental image, but hey – if it’s good enough for Doonesbury!

    Territorial boundaries established, each citizen who does not choose to remove themselves from the state of Texas can now become more like the cash cow they are. You see, in the “Old Paradigm,” the boys’ club that runs the show regards the citizenry as a bottom-up influx of cash; each citizen of Texas is capable of contributing more dollars to the whole pie, if they’re squeezed hard enough from day one. Or dare I say it, from the first tri-mester.

    In the New Paradigm (that I personally will look forward to seeing in a theater near me soon!), the individual members of said boys’ club that runs the show – matures emotionally and spiritually, becomes more like an empathetic adult, …..and thinks this shit through prior to force feeding the masses.

    I guess they’re all gambling that their own daughters will never need to be subjected to this experience. In fact, it’s a safe bet there’s a boys’ daughters’ club out there somewhere, proselytizing and making Daddy proud by pumping out more money machines, …er, babies. Inside of wedlock, of course.

    Then again, what do I know about the state of Texas. I just a dude who lives here.

    These things said, I would summarize with the following. Every baby born, equals money paid into the economy in what looks like a top-down system of cash distribution – but is really financed from the bottom, up. From the working class slaves, all the way to the top, …someone will get paid generously if we remain in our ‘old paradigm.’

    Or, women could revolt in the streets – and take back their vaginas! I’ll volunteer to hand paint placards, buttons and tee-shirts! …… “C’est La V-Day!” (Where “V” is for vagina, and the humor is in the irony.)

  2. John Cutting says:

    Might this rumble of reaction in a sense be a proverbial steam cloud rising from a live but silent volcano? I seem to be reacting to it with my gut and my heart, as opposed to my political nerve. First, I wonder what women have to say about the “rumble.” Second, I wonder if an issue that is so far getting no attention is the following. If we as a species could demonstrate to one another that we live in a society that knows how to treat its ‘living members’ with dignity, then maybe those of us who actually own a vagina and possess the ability to carry a fetus to term might be inclined to freely raise children in anticipation that they and their children will thrive in such a society.

    A few things occur (in my limited awareness). Society as a whole either benefits from, or is stricken by (in the case of psychotics, murderers, terrorists, etc.) the individuals born into the whole of society. Yet, it is the sole responsibility of most especially a young mother of ‘child bearing age’ to financially and emotionally support the child. I’m suggesting that society as a whole does not take an interest in the child for several years before formal education and socialization through preschooling begins, except in terms of state run healthcare facilities, or of consumerism (diapers, formula, car seats, stollers, cribs, toys, you name it). And I’m suggesting that two-parent families having the ability to financially, emotionally and socially contribute to the rearing of offspring, may no longer be the norm.

    I leave many holes of thought and argument to be considered in the above paragraphs. It would be my hope to hear a woman’s point of view on the matter of having or of not having children – in a society that places the burden of having children squarely on a woman’s shoulders, and that also struggles to eliminate the “glass ceiling” of income from a woman’s livelihood. A basic question I would enjoy seeing addressed might be, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how terrifying is it to consider birthing and rearing one or more children in the U.S.A.?” God knows, we’re not exactly a Nanny State.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.