Doonesbury Abortion Comic Should Be Seen by All Americans

ultrasound machineAfter that ridiculous uproar over state-"forced rape" in Virginia last month, you'd think it would be safe to say that other states' ultrasound laws would be dead in the water. But oh no! As of February, Texas law requires that women seeking abortions undergo an ultrasound that will pick up the heartbeat of the fetus. Because, you know, apparently women aren't capable of making an educated decision about abortion unless they and their doctors are forced to participate in this procedure, which, in early pregnancy, has to be done transvaginally.

Some in the Lone Star state may not have a problem with the logic behind the law, but political satirist Garry Trudeau is aiming to show the other side of the debate with a Doonesbury comic strip set to run in newspapers nationwide this week. And of course, being that it's such a hot-button topic (who the heck knows why 39 years after Roe v. Wade ...), some papers are refusing to run the strip.

Their argument?

It's not that they can't run the strip on their op-ed pages instead of the comic page, or that their readers can't handle strong political and social commentary. Instead, they're passing on it altogether, because language used in the strip is "quite graphic," in the words of the managing editor of The Gainseville Sun and Ocala Star-Banner in central Florida. It seems they're opposed to some of Trudeau's tongue-in-cheek captions, like one that reads, "The male Republicans who run Texas require that all abortion seekers be examined with a 10" shaming wand," and the line, "By the authority invested in me by the GOP base, I thee rape."

Wah wah, guess adult readers of newspapers can't handle barely PG-13 language!

Really, what does that say about this Texas law -- or any law forcing women to undergo transvaginal ultrasounds that are not medically required -- that newspapers are trying to shield readers' eyes from a satire of it? Maybe that it crosses the line ... maybe that there's some truth to the criticism of it?

Either way, the bottom-line here is that any media outlet refusing to run the Doonesbury comic is silencing a valid part of the debate. How can we truly understand the controversy if we aren't willing to consider opposing perspectives? No, this isn't necessarily "comfortable" subject matter, but it isn't supposed to be! The nature of the law should make us uneasy, because it is one of the current and clear examples of government overstepping their bounds. But whether you believe that or not, satire on the subject has a place in the national conversation. There's simply no good reason for newspapers to be quashing one side of the story.

Do you think the Doonesbury comic adds something to the debate and should be run by newspapers across the nation?


abortion, politics, media