Some newspapers refuse to run 'Doonesbury' comics on abortion, Texas ultrasound law

Published March 09, 2012

| FoxNews.com

Several newspapers are refusing to run a "Doonesbury"comic strip series that crudely satirizes a Texas law requiring women to have an ultrasound before an abortion. 

The company that provides the strip already plans to offer replacement "Doonesbury" comics for newspapers that want to avoid the series on abortion -- set to run next week. 

Universal Press Syndicate managing editor Sue Roush confirmed to FoxNews.com that "there are replacement strips available for papers who choose not to publish next week's strips." 

The series centers on a new Texas law that requires abortion doctors to show or describe an ultrasound image to a patient before the procedure. The comics feature a woman who goes to a clinic and is confronted by several people who suggest she should be shamed for seeking an abortion. 

Media blogger Jim Romenesko reported in detail on the contents of the series. According to his blog, the woman in the strip first meets with a male lawmaker who, after she says she's been using contraception, says: "Do your parents know you're a slut?" 

Preparing to deliver a "transvaginal exam," the doctor then tells her: "By the authority invested in me by the GOP base, I thee rape." 

The Oregonian announced on its website that it will not be running the comic strips, which are the work of cartoonist Garry Trudeau -- who is known for his edgy political satire. 

"'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," an editor with the Oregonian wrote. "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." 

The article said the Los Angeles Times and St. Louis Post-Dispatch have made similar decisions. 

A St. Paul Pioneer Press editor also told Romenesko the newspaper would not be running the "Doonesbury" strips next week. 

Texas' law does not specify the type of sonogram a woman must receive, but an invasive transvaginal ultrasound is necessary to meet the law's other requirements that a doctor show the woman an image of the fetus, describing its features and make the fetal heartbeat audible in the first trimester. The procedure uses a wand inserted in the vagina to yield an image of the fetus and differs from an abdominal sonogram, in which the wand is rubbed over a woman's belly. 

Universal Press Syndicate president Lee Salem 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." 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/03/09/newspapers-refusing-to-run-doonesbury-comic-on-texas-ultrasound-law/