Newspapers moot dropping Doonesbury during transvaginal ultrasound plot

As Doonesbury tackles mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds for women considering abortions, rumours abound that newspapers will drop or substitute the strip:

In the "Doonesbury" strip, a woman goes to a Texas clinic to have the procedure and is forced to get a sonogram, Roush said.

The cartoon ends with the woman going home to wait 24 hours before having the abortion, as the Texas law requires, Roush said. The woman is a new character in "Doonesbury," she said.

Editors from about a dozen newspapers have reached out to Universal Uclick with questions about the strip authored by Pulitzer Prize winner Garry Trudeau, with some newspapers asking about whether an alternate strip will be offered, Roush said.

"I would imagine that some will make that choice" not to run the abortion-related strip, Roush said.

Doonesbury Pulled Over Rick Perry’s Transvaginal Exams (via The Mary Sue)


  1. I really wish the phrase “Rick Perry’s Transvaginal Exams” in the headline meant exactly what it sounds like.

    1. If editors get nervous about a couple hundred phone calls I can imagine why they’d shy away from running abortion related cartoons in America’s finer arsenals like Texas.

      1. There are plenty of us Texans including a whole lot of Republicans that are darn embarrassed by this as much as we are Perry.

        1.  “Plenty”?  More than sufficient? 
          No.  I think you mean that there are a few Texans that have shame. 

          1.  Perhaps, were we generous “Large numbers, but still insufficient or under-motivated to outvote the even larger number of Texans voting to rape women who want abortions”

  2. It’s funny that conservatives can twist themselves up into finding that the comic strip is somehow more controversial than the law it parodies.

    1. We have a constitutional right to do whatever stupid shit we want without some pointy-headed coastal elitist pointing out that what we do is stupid shit!
      It’s right there in the constitution, the bit that Jesus gave to George Washington just after the NRA beat the british.

  3. Portland’s “Oregonian” has already announced that the strips won’t run, and they’re saying they’ll just recycle some old strips. Interestingly for a paper whose website is usually full of “This is Obama’s fault!” comments, the comments have run very much in favor of keeping the strips intact.

    1.  Shhh! You’ll let the batshit crazy anti-tax cat out of the bag!

      People still think we’re a bastion of liberal ideology and self-referencing mediocre comedy!

    2.  The Oregonian figures that the only readership they have left are the old folks who are hard core conservatives, since they pretty much drove off everyone else.  The only thing I ever read in that paper anymore is the comics and the supermarket ads. The rest is usually pretty biased fishwrap.


  4. During the McCarthy era, Walt Kelly  produced a set of alternative strips for newspapers to run when they felt _Pogo_ was cutting a bit too close to the bone. Those “fluffy bunny” strips (Kelly’s term) weren’t completely innocuous either, but they were a bit less likely to draw attacks.

  5. All his talk of government stepping between a doctor and their patient is distracting from all the slutty sluttyness. How dare he interrupt the new conservative narrative to remind us that this new narrative rather flies in the face of the last one? How DARE he?

  6. I guarantee that somewhere out there, a conservative American is angrily asking why his hard-earned tax dollars should have to pay for filth like “Doonesbury.”

  7. I suppose, of course, that the exams have to be done by a licensed tech. But what if I go to a Mexican supermarket back office exam in downtown LA? They’ll do it, but what the hell is it supposed to prove? “Yeah, here’s my compulsory exam ticket. Scrape that baby outta’ me.”

    On the flip side, can they show you a mandatory clip on over-population, pollution, financial ruination, and a life long responsibility for creating another living debit on planet Earth?

    RIP that baby out. ABORTION is GREEN.

    Ground control to Major Tom…

      1. He thinks the solution to the worlds problems is for everyone to stop reproducing. It makes as much sense as asking everyone to stop using energy, but on the other hand it has the added appeal of exhortations to kill babies.

  8. So now we have left wing media being censored for it’s confrontational topic. I think censorship is bad – mmmkay – no matter which side of the fence it lies on.

    ETA – not talking about Rush Limbaugh.

    1. Really. This is the same thing as the Rush Limbaugh situation to you? First, Limbaugh isn’t being censored. His advertisers have decided to stop supporting his show. That’s not censorship, that’s free enterprise. Secondly. this isn’t about censorship either. There’s a difference between editors choosing to not run a cartoon and the government banning it.

      As for this being the equivalent to Limbaugh’s scummy comments, well, I don’t know what to say about that.

      1. You do realize that the government need not be involved for censorship right?  Some companies choose to self-censor without any involvement, like what is happening with this comic strip.  No matter how you try to frame it, it is still censorship.
        From Merriam-Webster:
        Definition of CENSOR
        transitive verb:
         to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable -censor the news-; also : to suppress or delete as objectionable -censor out indecent passages-

        1. I guess I just see a difference between the word “censor” being used interchangeably with the word “editing”, and the idea of “censorship”. One sort of waters down the impact of the other, rendering the latter increasingly meaningless.

        2. No passages of Rush’s are being suppressed. He is as free to say today what he said then, it’s just now nobody is buying it.

          You can’t blame the effect for the cause.

      2. Is there really such a big difference between an advertiser not running an ad because they think to do so would be controversial and would damage the company in terms of sales, and an editor choosing not to run a cartoon because they think to do so would be controversial and would damage the newspaper in terms of sales? Both seem like free enterprise decisions to me…

        You’re right though. This isn’t censorship. It’s either cowardice or disapproval. Not clear which.

      3.  I am not comparing this to Limbaugh. Rush gets the back lash he deserves for his comments.

        BUT when you have a large group of people saying they won’t support any show that is “controversial” – a far reaching, undefined term – especially when they seem to single out one kind of “controversial” programming, that is a type of censorship.

        In one case you have advertisers possibly killing  a show by unilaterally withdrawing air time (not talking about Rush) – the other is making a unilateral decision to not run a cartoon. Both are well within their rights, but are form of censorship just the same.

    2. So there is a “left wing media”? 
      Newspapers that censor themselves in a matter that isn’t even particularly left, and involves a cartoon, cannot possibly be considered left wing.

      1.  “Left-Wing Media” refers to the cartoon itself. Obviously the papers refusing to run it probably have a right-wing slant to them. A cartoon that is poking fun at the absurdity of a right wing/pro-life law some how isn’t “left-wing” O_0  Doonsbury is notoriously left.

    3. So now we have left wing media being censored for it’s confrontational topic…

      Rush Limbaugh’s advertisers didn’t desert him en masse because he took on a confrontational topic. They deserted him because he spent three days slandering a young woman as a “slut” and a “prostitute” on the air because she disagreed with him about prescription birth control coverage.

      For what it’s worth I think newspapers should have the right to drop “Doonesbury” if this sort of thing doesn’t fit with their editorial policies… but if they do, they owe it to their readers to explain how it conflicts with their editorial policies. Then those readers can decide for themselves if these papers are really worth subscribing to…

      1. Agree with that pov. Though not sure nsp has to justify why they’re not running a cartoon they’re not running. Why not just boycott the companies who advertise in a paper that’s not behaving the way you like?

      2.  Not talking about Rush, I am talking about all the others who are lumped in as being “controversial”.  Rush is getting what he deserves, but the others don’t deserve the backlash. I don’t think removing advertising from ‘controversial’ programming – especially with out explaining what that means – is kosher.

  9. Off topic, but I’ve got to ask: ‘Moot’ is a Britishism for ‘consider’? The headline means the complete opposite in American English.

    1. Entmoot, dude. Moot can mean discuss here in the US as well, although it’s not used much for that meaning. The one that gets me is ‘table’, which means to present for discussion in the UK and stick in the back of the drawer in the US.

      1. ‘Table’–now a line from a song I heard recently makes sense. I can always trust BB for lernin’ and stuff.

      2.  Yabbut as grimc points out, the sense that ISN’T obscure produces a meaning directly opposite the intended one. Which makes it a poor choice.

        1. “Moot” means irresolvable without discussion (perhaps at a “moot,” meaning meeting, the original use for the word, attested around 937AD). The use of “moot” to mean “inconsequential” seems to derive from the SNL Jesse Jackson sketches of the 80s, which, as far as I could tell at the time, were meant to mock Jackson’s mistaken and pretentious use of obscure words.

          Of course, language is a living thing, so we now have a brand new moot.

      3. “Tabled,” from way wayyyyyy too much debate in high school and a stint on the town’s board, is meant to keep an item up for discussion, albeit LATER.  As in, STILL ON THE AGENDA.  Technically.  Now, we casually toss it out there to mean, let’s discuss this never.  Such a shame, because tabling is key among a very small collection of Chairmen’s tools.  Chairmen usually don’t have much power – other than to shepherd discussion… much like… aherm… someone I know on BoingBoing. 

        1. Yeah, that Mao guy who was a chairman in China had hardly any power other than relying on obscure techniques from “Robert’s Rules of Order”. Ditto for chairmen of major corporations…

          1.  They’re referring to the technical position Chairman of the Board, not an actual chairman, who may have other non-technical powers.

          2. Exactly.  I’m not referring to the Chairman Emperor of the Universe.  I mean “chair of the discussion at hand” in a run-of-the-mill democratic process of sitting around a table talking things over while adhering in some form to Robert’s Rules.

    2. Not according to Websters. The verb has only the sense consider. The adjective has two apparently opposite senses open for discussion and of little significance. Beautifully ironic.

  10. I certainly wish these folks would try doing something to improve things instead just making things worse and worse.

    ” Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.”~~~Desiderata

  11. Cory – This is a nitpick, but you mean “that newspapers will drop or replace the strip,” not “substitute” it. They’ll substitute a phony, or old, strip for the current one.

  12. The sad irony of the situation is that newspapers have the choice to drop the comic, but some women don’t have the choice to drop the invasive transvaginal ultrasound, and many woman don’t have the choice to have an abortion.

  13. This isn’t anything new for Doonesbury. Not by a longshot.

    Throughout the long history of the strip, Trudeau has introduced topics that various papers deemed objectionable. They have either not run the strips in-question, or moved the strip to the editorial pages.

    Sad to see editors (or their owners) still operating with small minds.

  14. The thing I find most shocking is the fact that Doonesbury is still in print. I thought that strip ended in the 1990s.

    1. The far superior Gary Larsen retired in ’95, if that’s who you were thinking of. If not, sorry. And speaking of Gary Larsen, I miss him.

      1. That’s Larson. Better at witty single-panel art, not as good at informed contemporary political commentary. Which is fine, it would be silly to expect all comics to serve the same purpose just because they share a common medium.

        1. I was JUST coming back to fix that. gd you.

          Anyway, I know Gary Larson’s a different kind of cartoonist than Pierre Trudeau.

      2.  For myself I don’t think I’d make that judgement. Gary Larsen was a non political absurdist. Trudeau’s work has always been political, topical, and not always funny. Aside from the medium they work in it’s apples and oranges.

        1. Yes.
          WNMandela was musing about a cartoonist who retired in the 90s. My first mistake was wondering aloud if he meant Larson.

    2.  Relevant: Doonesbury was one of the first conglomerate comics to really “get” new media:  early and strong online presence, continuously contemporary and tech-savvy content, archives, etc.  Maybe its stars are Boomers but they live in the present. 

      (Though I’ve been reading it as webcomic so long it’s a little surreal when it’s meta and refers to it’s “newspaper readership”).

  15. My favorite irony: in the early days of newspaper comic strips back in the late 19th/early 20th centuries, many in the newspaper industry looked down on the inclusion of silly and irreverent content as a stain on the “serious” nature of a journalistic periodical. But for most of the history of the medium any (non-editorial) cartoonist who actually tried to discuss current events in a serious matter has been raked over the coals for putting “inappropriate content” in a family newspaper.

  16. I heard the announcement watching the morning news on WFAA-TV (A Belo property – which also owns the Dallas Morning News).  The talking heads announced that the Fort Worth Star-Telegram would not be printing the Doonesbury strip during the course of the story arc, but that the Dallas Morning News would print Doonesbury.
    The laughable thing was that the talking heads tried to locate the Doonesbury cartoon in the color comics section from the Sunday paper.  However, Doonesbury has always been located elsewhere in the paper in the section with the other political cartoons.

  17. So, some newspapers won’t publish particular Trudeau comics, but won’t drop Trudeau entirely because that might mean losing a reader or three.

    Nothing like taking a stand, is there?

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