Apparently some U.S. newspapers are choosing not to run next week’s installment of the comic strip Doonesbury, some are moving it from the comics page to the editorial page for a week, and some are removing it from their print editions but providing readers directions to find it on the web.
Not us. Doonesbury will appear in its normal place on the comics page of the New Haven Register, The Middletown Press and The Register Citizen.
In the strips, Doonesbury author and Yale grad Garry Trudeau tackles a proposed Texas law that would require women seeking an abortion to get a “transvaginal ultrasound,” which involves inserting a wand into the vagina.
Next week’s Doonesbury refers to it as a “shaming wand,” features a Texas legislator calling a young woman at a doctor’s office a “slut,” and quotes a Texas doctor just before the procedure saying, “By the authority vested in me by the GOP base, I thee rape.”
This would be jarring if all of a sudden Garfield tackled abortion and Republican right misogyny, but this is Doonesbury. It’s a political cartoon. Readers expect it to tackle the issues of the day head-on. Trudeau succeeds brilliantly on this one, and maybe that’s why it’s so uncomfortable for some.
We just listened to one of the most popular radio talk show hosts in America call a young college student a “slut” and a “prostitute” for advocating that health insurance cover contraception. And he still has a job.
Newspaper editors should be more concerned about protecting their readers from legislators who want to force them into an offensive, invasive procedure aimed at undermining the very foundation of reproductive rights and equality than cartoonists who are raising alarms about it.