Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau has defended his cartoon strip about abortion, which several US newspapers are refusing to run, saying he felt compelled to respond to the way Republicans across America are undermining women’s healthcare rights.
The strip, published on Monday and scheduled to run all week, has been rejected by several papers, while others said they were switching it from the comic section to the editorial page.
In an email exchange with the Guardian, Trudeau expressed dismay over the papers’ decision but was unrepentant, describing as “appalling” and “insane” Republican state moves on women’s healthcare.
About 1,400 newspapers, including the Guardian, take the Doonesbury cartoon. The Guardian is running the cartoon as normal on Monday.
The strip deals specifically with a law introduced in Texas and other states requiring a woman who wants to have an abortion to have an ultrasound scan, or sonogram, which will show an image of the foetus and other details, in an attempt to make her reconsider…
The Kansas City Star is among the papers not running the cartoon in its normal slot. “We felt the content was too much for many of the readers of our family-friendly comic page,” an editor told Associated Press. The Star will use a replacement strip offered by the organisation that syndicates Doonesbury, Universal Uclick, and move the abortion one to its editorial pages…
Abortion, contraception and other social issues have resurfaced in politics in recent weeks, partly because they have been highlighted by the Republican candidates in the presidential race. Conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh referred to a student giving evidence to a congressional hearing in support of contraception as “a slut”.
Trudeau told the Guardian he thought the issue of reproductive freedom had been settled while he had still been at school: the Supreme Court 1973 ruling Roe v Wade, which removed restrictions on abortion.
Trudeau wrote: “Ninety-nine percent of American women have or will use contraception during their lifetimes. To see these healthcare rights systematically undermined in state after state by the party of ‘limited government’ is appalling. “In Texas, the sonograms are the least of it. The legislature has also defunded women’s health clinics all over the state, leaving 300,000 women without the contraceptive services that prevent abortions in the first place. Insanity.”
Perhaps not central to the question of why newspapers across America are in decline; but, cowardice in the face of bigotry and corporate churches with big bucks invested in so-called family values certainly plays a role.
A 19th Century outlook often accompanies the 19th Century pride in owning a newspaper even among independent locally-owned newspapers. The rest are simply part of corporate media empires which couldn’t care less about Freedom of the Press.