Doonesbury Takes on the Zygote Zealots

Several newspapers will not be running next week’s Doonesbury cartoons.  The strip has been censored before.  Next week’s strip takes on the newly passed transvaginal ultrasounds laws states of Texas and Virginia for women exercising their constitutional rights early in their pregnancies.  The demeaning procedure–frequently referred to as a form of state approved rape–has already been forced on Texas women.

Here’s what’s in the strips:

Monday: Young woman arrives for her pre-termination sonogram, is told to take a seat in the shaming room, a middle-aged male state legislator will be right with her.

Tuesday: He asks her if this is her first visit to the center, she replies no, that she’s been using the contraceptive services for some time. He says, “I see. Do your parents know you’re a slut?”

Wednesday: A different male is reading to her about the transvaginal exam process.

Thursday: In the stirrups, she is telling a nurse that she doesn’t want a transvaginal exam. Doctor says “Sorry miss, you’re first trimester. The male Republicans who run Texas require that all abortion seekers be examined with a 10″ shaming wand.” She asks “Will it hurt?” Nurse says, “Well, it’s not comfortable, honey. But Texas feels you should have thought of that.” Doctor says, “By the authority invested in me by the GOP base, I thee rape.”

Friday: Doctor is explaining that the Texas GOP requires her to have an intimate encounter with her fetus. He begins describing it to her. Last panel, he says, “Shall I describe it’s hopes and dreams?” She replies, “If it wants to be the next Rick Perry, I’ve made up my mind.”

Saturday: Back in the reception area, she asks where she goes now for the actual abortion. Receptionist tells her there’s a 24-hour waiting period: “The Republican Party is hoping you get caught in a shame spiral and change your mind.” Last panel: She says, “A final indignity.” Receptionist replies, “Not quite. Here’s your bill.”

Cartoonist Gary Trudeau has given an interview on the strips.

I chose the topic of compulsory sonograms because it was in the news and because of its relevance to the broader battle over women’s health currently being waged in several states. For some reason, the GOP has chosen 2012 to re-litigate reproductive freedom, an issue that was resolved decades ago. Why [Rick] Santorum, [Rush] Limbaugh et al. thought this would be a good time to declare war on half the electorate, I cannot say. But to ignore it would have been comedy malpractice.

Several papers will be running the cartoons.

Debbie Van Tassel, assistant managing editor of features at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, tells Comic Riffs that she and other top editors have decided to run next week’s strips, which feature a woman who sits in a “shaming room” as she awaits a pre-termination sonogram and a check-up from a legislator. “We didn’t deliberate long,” Van Tassel tells Comic Riffs. “We all agreed that some readers will be upset by them, mainly because they appear on the comics page, but also because of the graphic depiction of a transvaginal sonogram.”

Van Tassel cites the larger journalistic context in which “Doonesbury” appears. “This newspaper deals with those issues routinely in the news sections and in our health section,” she tells us. “Our page one today, for example, carries a story about the movement by women legislators across the country to curb men’s abilities to get vasectomies and prescriptions for erectile dysfunction. I haven’t heard of any objections to that story yet.”

The Plain Dealer also believes “Doonesbury” deserves a long satiric leash. “Garry Trudeau’s metier is political satire; if we choose to carry ‘Doonesbury,’ we can’t yank the strip every time it deals with a highly charged issue. His fans are every bit as vocal as his critics. We are alerting readers to the nature of the strips so they can decide whether to read them next week.”

Good for them and shame on the papers that censor Trudeau.


8 Comments on “Doonesbury Takes on the Zygote Zealots”

  1. joanelle says:

    Thanks for this Dak – I’ll tell everyone I know to get the papers!

  2. bostonboomer says:

    This is great. Next I wish he would do a week on Rush Limbaugh’s hate speech.

  3. ralphb says:

    Sadly, reading the comics may be the only way some people learn about the situation. Glad Trudeau is taking it on,

  4. Minkoff Minx says:

    This link isn’t about the comics, but I wanted to share it. Profiles In Cowardice – Esquire

    Oh, you chickenshit motherfckers.

    I sincerely hope Shirley Sherrod and her lawyers win so big that they have to dig up Andrew Breitbart and collect the pennies off his eyes. I sincerely hope, at some point, Shirley Sherrod gets in a room with Tom Vilsack, and with the incumbent president of the United Stares, and with everyone of his micturating staffers, and she spits on every damn one of them.

    Look at this stuff. This is the most powerful office in the world, trembling over spin, and wetting itself because a charlatan has triggered a storm of fake outrage for a bunch of clowns with microphones.

    USDA director of communications Chris Mather sent the White House press office a heads-up email describing the video. “She goes on to make it a larger case about understanding race …. but looks bad. (Fox News host Bill) O’Reilly just called us for statement,” Mather says in the email. White House spokesman Reid Cherlin, responds, asking Mather in an email what USDA is going to say about the matter, “and has she been fired? I’ll alert folks here.” Mather answers, telling Cherlin that Sherrod had been placed on administrative leave. “I guess some folks over there are circling wagons,” Mather says, referring to the White House. At the same time, Valerie Green of the White House presidential personnel office was emailing the USDA’s White House liaison, Kevin Washo, asking him to loop her in, “Please. Please. Please.”

    All of this because Bill Fucking O’Reilly calls for comment? You know what the proper answer from the White House to a call for a statement from Bill O’Reilly is?

    “Get your hands out of your pants, you lecherous, sweaty-balled creep. We have nothing to say to you, now or ever. Oh, and Andrea Mackris, Andrea Mackris, Andrea Mackris.”

    Good for Pierce, that is exactly what I thought about those damn emails. I just didn’t have the guts to say it.

  5. NW Luna says:

    Whereas Obama immediately shoves whoever it is this time under the bus.

  6. Sam says:

    I’m guilty of once again dismissing Trudeau. There was a time I followed him religiously, but with the decline of newspapers I grew lax. Regardless of how complacent he might get at times, when there is a true issue of import I can always count on Garry to provide thoughtful insight, perspective, and a couple quiet personal chuckles. Now that we have Facebook, his strips are the perfect catalyst for further discussion of these benchmark issues. Bravo and kudos to Trudeau for tackling this issue, Thank you for all those who came before and helped me in developing my perspective on so many issues. Say hi to Jane and tell her we miss her!