Following the enforcement of a Texas law requiring women to have an ultrasound procedure prior to undergoing an abortion, Garry Trudeau’s comic strip, Doonesbury, plans to run a week-long series on the subject. Some newspapers, however, are not on board with an overt political message appearing in its funny papers, and are now considering replacing the new strips with substitutes.
Below is a sample of what's included in the Doonesbury strip via Jim Romensko:
“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.’”
For something whose sole purpose is to invoke laughter, the content above doesn't ring too funny.
According to Fox News, Universal Press Syndicate managing editor Sue Roush confirmed that "there are replacement strips available for papers who choose not to publish next week's strips."
The company's president, Lee Salem, also said he wouldn't be surprised if 20 to 30 of the 1,400 newspapers that carry the strip decided to opt out and run the replacement series.
"Once every five or six months there's usually something in 'Doonesbury' that causes a stir," Salem said. "Every two or three years there's something that causes a bigger stir. This is probably one of those times. Historically, that's par for the course with 'Doonesbury' because Garry explores topics on comics pages that are not normally there."
According to Fox, The Oregonian confirmed on its website that it has no plans to run the comic strips:
"'Doonesbury' is a venerable comic strip, and over the years we have resisted calls to remove it or move it to the editorial page. The reason: It's a comic strip and even though he delves into political satire, it is still a comic strip... But in next week's strip, 'Doonesbury' author Garry Trudeau, in our judgment, 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."
Reports claim the Los Angeles Times, St. Paul Pioneer Press and St. Louis Post-Dispatch have made similar decisions.