'Doonesbury' Takes on Texas Abortion Law

Associated Press

Several newspapers are refusing to run an upcoming "Doonesbury" comic strip series by author Garry Trudeau that deals with a Texas law requiring women to have an ultrasound before having an abortion.

The six-day series, set to run next week, tells the story of a pregnant woman who goes to a Texas clinic to have an abortion and is forced to get a sonogram.

"On behalf of Governor Rick Perry, may I welcome you to your compulsory transvaginal exam," says a doctor in one comic panel.

In another panel, a middle-aged legislator calls a pregnant woman seeking an abortion a "slut."

"This is happening in statehouses across the country," Trudeau said in a statement released in response to the controversy, according to Reuters. "It's lunacy, and lunacy, of course, is in my wheelhouse."

Trudeau, a Pulitzer Prize winner, is known for writing political and social commentary into his comic strips, and many newspapers publish "Doonesbury" in the editorial section.

"We run 'Doonesbury' on our op-ed page, and this series is an example of why," said David Averill, editorial page editor for the Tulsa World, according to The Associated Press. "Many of our readers will disagree with the political stance the series takes, and some will be offended by the clinical language. I believe, however, that this series of strips is appropriate to the abortion debate and appropriate to our op-ed pages."

The Los Angeles Times has also decided to run the series in its opinion pages.

The newspapers that choose not to run the series will be sent alternate strips from a year ago by Universal Uclick, the syndicate behind "Doonesbury."

Courtesy Universal Uclick

The Texas law, which requires abortion providers to show the patient the fetus' image and play the sound of the fetus' heartbeat, is meant to give pregnant women a chance to reconsider having an abortion. Women can chose not to view the image or listen to the heartbeat. A similar law was passed in Virginia last week, and will go into effect on July 1.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Trudeau said to ignore the issue 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," Trudeau said in the interview.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.