March 14th, 2012 | University

Doonesbury comes under fire

Garry Trudeau '70 GRD '73 appears on PBS News Hour in a 2010 interview.
Garry Trudeau '70 GRD '73 appears on PBS News Hour in a 2010 interview. Photo by YouTube.

Garry Trudeau’s ’70 GRD ’73 “Doonesbury” comics sparked a nationwide controversy this week over a series of strips tackling an abortion law in Texas.

This week’s strips focus on a woman’s attempt to have an abortion in Texas in the wake of a new law requiring all women seeking abortions to undergo an pre-termination ultrasound. In Monday’s strip, a woman is told to wait in a “shaming room” for her sonogram, and in Tuesday’s strip, fictional Texas state legislator Sid Patrick — based on Texas legislators Sid Miller and Dan Patrick — meets her in the shaming room.

“Do your parents know you’re a slut?” Patrick asks the woman. “Surely they suspect.”

Dozens of newspapers nationwide have decided not to run the strips because of their graphic depictions of a transvaginal sonogram. Trudeau offered an alternate set of Doonesbury comics this week for papers that did not want to publish the series. In an interview with the Washington Post, Trudeau said he had not previously tackled abortion in Doonesbury because he thought much of the abortion debate had subsided before he created the strip 40 years ago.

“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,” Trudeau told the Post. “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.”

You can see the rest of this week’s Doonesbury strips as they are published here.