Doonesbury cartoon dropped for tackling Texas abortion law

Mar 12, 2012

Garry Trudeau's cartoon is suspended or moved from comic section for satirising Texan rules

Rob Loud

AMERICA'S fractious debate about abortion has now extended into the realm of cartoons. A host of US newspapers have refused to carry Garry Trudeau's long-running Doonesbury strip this week because it attacks Republican state laws aimed at limiting the procedure.

Trudeau tackles a Texas law which requires women who want abortions to undergo an ultrasound scan which will show them their unborn child in the hope that they will reconsider their decision.

In the controversial strip a woman turning up at a clinic is directed to the 'shaming room' where a state legislator accuses her of being a 'slut' for having used contraceptives before. The woman is later told by a nurse: "The male Republicans who run Texas require that all abortion seekers be examined with a 10-inch shaming wand."

The Guardian, which carries the strip and will run it uncensored this week, reports that several US newspapers including the Kansas City Star have refused to carry the storyline, and will instead use a replacement strip provided by Universal Uclick, the syndication agency which handles Doonesbury.

"We felt the content was too much for many of the readers of our family-friendly comic page," an editor at the Star told the Associated Press.

Other papers, including the Los Angeles Times, will move Doonesbury from their comic section to the main editorial pages. Sue Horton, an editor at the LA Times, said: "We carry both op-eds and cartoons about controversial subjects [on the Op-Ed page], and this is a controversial subject."

The 63-year-old Trudeau, who has been writing the strip since 1970 and who is an unrepentant liberal, told the Guardian in an email: "I write the strip to be read, not removed. And as a practical matter, many more people will see it in the comics page than on the editorial page.

"Ninety-nine per cent of American women have or will use contraception during their lifetimes," Trudeau continues. "To see these healthcare rights systematically undermined in state after state by the party of 'limited government' is appalling."

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Is this the same America that proudly and loudly states it has "Freedom of Speech?"

Editorial cartoons are about all that is worth reading in most newspaper these day...the only place to find some truth.