Doonesbury tackles abortion

March 12, 2012 • 6:11 am

This week’s Doonesbury is going to be about abortion and the right-wing craziness around it in America.  There is no weapon as sharp as sarcasm, and Garry Trudeau wields it with great finesse.  Here’s today’s strip, and I’ll be putting them up all this week.

(Note: as some readers have noted, although the strip is reproduced widely by others [including here], this deprives Trudeau of syndication money, or so I’m told.  So even if you look at the strip below, also click on the link above to make sure the artist gets the “click credit”.)

As MSNBC reports, some papers will probably pull this strip because it’s controversial:

Around a dozen U.S. newspapers have raised questions about an abortion-related “Doonesbury” comic strip set for publication next week, and some will likely not run it, the syndicate behind the cartoon said on Friday.

The cartoon’s story line for Monday through Saturday focuses on a Texas law that requires abortion providers to perform an ultrasound on pregnant women before the procedure, said Sue Roush, managing editor for Universal Uclick, the syndicate behind “Doonesbury.”

The law, which went into effect earlier this year, is intended to give pause to pregnant women before having an abortion and possibly reconsider their decision.

A similar bill was signed into law earlier this week by Virginia’s Republican Governor Bob McDonnell that also requires women to have an ultrasound before an abortion. . .

The Texas law “Doonesbury” is highlighting has proved controversial since lawmakers approved it last year.

It requires abortion providers to perform an ultrasound on pregnant women, show and describe the image to them, and play sounds of the fetal heartbeat. Women can decline to view images or hear the heartbeat, but they must listen to a description of the exam.

The Los Angeles Times has moved the strip, just for this week, from the comics page to the op-ed page.

52 thoughts on “Doonesbury tackles abortion

  1. The local paper here will not run the strips this week. They said they would put a link to the comic on their website, but I couldn’t find it. I’m always amazed that censors always assume the public just can’t handle seeing something that might be a different viewpoint from their own so it must be suppressed.

    The Scarlet Letter “A” on the clipboard is a nice touch–and funny.

  2. One would think that if decency prevents the process from being depicted in print, decency should prevent it from being put into law.

  3. Good for you, for posting the strip! (I am putting the banned ones on my facebook page.)

    I have never understood WHY it is OK to write about something, to mock it on comedy show, but… if you turn something into a COMIC STRIP, that somehow crosses a line.

  4. Women,

    Because we can’t trust you with a choice, but we can trust you with a child.


    The Religious Right

    1. Actually, that is a bit of an odd gap in logic, isn’t it? If abortion is murder in their eyes, why would they then entrust a child to the same potential murderer?

      1. Although the anti forces claim abortion is “murder”, it is extremely rare to find anyone who argues that the women is therefore a murderer, and should thus be prosecuted and punished as one. It is yet one more inconsistency in their views.

        1. Part of it may be actually believing their own propaganda (no woman who really understood what abortion entails would get one unless the evil pro-abortion lobby manipulated her), but they also know that whatever support they have with women would plummet to near zero if they followed through with the logic of ‘abortion is murder’.

          1. they also know that whatever support they have with women would plummet to near zero if they followed through with the logic of ‘abortion is murder’.

            Exactly — they are hypocrites.

          1. Pretty much in all states, however, if you hire someone to kill another, you’re equally guilty of murder, and additionally of conspiracy as well.

      2. Why would they care about the child once it’s born? By being brought to term inside the mother it has served its purpose of punishing said woman and can be disregarded without consequence.

  5. It’s a bit odd he was on the comics page to start with, honestly. An awful lot of papers moved the strip to the Op-Ed section back in the 90’s when he refused to let the strip be resized along with the rest.

    1. …are you sure you’re not thinking of Calvin and Hobbes? I remember a lot of papers moving Doonesbury to the op-ed pages because thy deemed it too political (forgetting that comics have a history of satire and social commentary in the U.S.). But nothing about re-sizing it.

      1. Trudeau was pretty well-known at the time for refusing the resizing that the newspapers were pushing at the time. Some papers left it where it was, but a lot shifted it to another section. That’s how he ended up on Op-Ed pages in a lot of markets to start with. I remember it pretty well, since it was moved in my local papers at the time for that reason.

        Watterson’s own battles happened about the same time, of course.

        1. Actually, that’s the only positive thing about the LA Times moving the strip to the Op-Ed section – they printed it larger than the postage stamp size of the strips on their comics page.

        2. “well-known at the time for refusing the resizing” – you’d think that finding a reference to that would be easy then…

  6. Jerry, I would gently suggest that you shouldn’t copy the strip onto this site. Trudeau gets paid through page hits, and he deserves the traffic. The traffic is also a political statement in itself.

    1. Yep, the political support is nice, but posting the strip is probably a copyright violation, and at the very least (in principle) deprives Trudeau of syndication money.

      1. I went to his website, left a complimentary comment. (Of course, only the ‘members of the choir’ will read the strip. Sad.) It is a splendid start to the week for me.

      2. “Heck, why not just [go] to the [Doonsbury site] directly!”

        Which is where the article link itself was directed. Nor is it copyright violation.

        “Yep, the political support is nice, but posting the strip is probably a copyright violation …”

        “Linking to websites that display copyrighted works is acceptable as long as the website has licensed the work, or uses the work in a way compliant with fair use.”

        So what constitutes fair use?

        “In United States copyright law, fair use is a doctrine that permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders. Examples of fair use include commentary, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving and scholarship.”

        ” … and at the very least (in principle) deprives Trudeau of syndication money.”

        But is ‘reality’, adds significantly to the hits.

        Trudeau may in fact owe some commissions …

        1. Your citations do not apply. The strip has been copied onto the site. It is an internal link, not an external link.

          1. “Your citations do not apply. The strip has been copied onto the site. It is an internal link, not an external link.”

            That is not the issue, but rather whether or not it is allowed usage. The key exclusion from Copyright Law that applies here is does its use constitute allowed ‘free use’? From a WIPO reference:

            Examples of free use include:

            • quoting from a protected work, provided that the source of the quotation and the name of the author is mentioned, and that the extent of the quotation is compatible with fair practice

            • use of works by way of illustration for teaching purposes, and

            • use of works for the purpose of news reporting.


            In some cases, Voluntary or Non-voluntary use could require compensation, but in the ‘news-reporting’ category, and in particular since it is for news reporting, and of course not for direct profit, compensation would not apply.

            But hey, I’m not a copyright attorney, so I would welcome one to chime in for a clarification [if needed].

            1. Broadly speaking, use of copyrighted material is more likely to be fair use if it’s use of an excerpt from the material, and less likely if it’s reproduction of the whole thing. You also have the subsidiary issue of whether any individual can use copyrighted material on their website and claim to be reporting the news, or whether this is limited in some way to journalists, or at least people whose sites regularly report news items.

              So it wouldn’t be at all surprising if Jerry’s use of the strip breached the copyright in it. Either way, I doubt it matters, as this particular use is drawing attention to the strip, providing a link to the site, and fully crediting the creator, so it would be quite a surprise if Trudeau complained.

  7. I remember just after the end of apartheid in South Africa, black women were advocating to legalise abortion. On a forum on TV, there was this godbot white woman who said it was murder; a life was taken that could have been nurtured to become a contributing citizen of the country. And worse of all, it was against God’s will. A black woman gave a very good answer: Where are you white people when we have to raise a child in a black township without even a basic commodity like electricity? Where are your churches and your God to assist us in our struggle to feed this child?

  8. The good thing is that this week’s Doonesbury will receive even more attention because some papers are pulling the strip. My favorite Doonesbury themes in the past were the Oral Roberts death watch and “Guilty, guilty, guilty!”. The latter was during Watergate and many newspapers pulled it.

  9. Somebody remind me again why a standard OB-GYN procedure is the subject of political debate?

    …oh. That’s right. The patriarchy likes its whores barefoot and pregnant.

    Silly me. How could I have forgotten?


  10. And, of course, by a version of the Streisand effect everyone who doesn’t normally read Doonesbury (including myself) are piling in to see what the fuss is about ….

  11. Like the scarlet “A”.

    New Hampshire’s Union Leader years ago refused to publish a Cathy comic strip because of its criticism of President Bush.

    The note in the Monitor read, “We pay Cathy to be amuse our readers, not to criticize our President”.

  12. The Los Angeles Times has moved the strip, just for this week, from the comics page to the op-ed page.

    I am not sure, but I believe more attention is paid to the Op-ed page than to the comics page. LA Times seems to have made the right move.

  13. Since Governor Perry and the legislators who proposed, drafted, sponsored and voted for this procedure are so obsessed with the condition of vaginas, we should inundate their emails with photo after photo of vaginas (Ceiling Cat knows there are plenty available online to download and send).

    1. Sounds like a plan, except those legislators probably all have links to in their bookmarks already…

      (I just made that site up, anyone care to offer odds there isn’t a site by that name already… 😉

      1. You’re overlooking two things: 1) the simple nuisance value and 2) the emails will be to their public accounts and, therefore, part of the public record.

        Interestingly enough, a search for “nymphoteens” did not turn up any current sites (though “” brings up a nonresponsive but possibly active site), but there are links to a song titled Nymphoteens by a band called Scarlet.

  14. Thanks! I don’t often watch Doonesbury, often a bit dry for me (Tim Kreider is more to my taste), but I’m making sure to click through to Doonesbury all this week!

  15. On the other hand…..Dr. Singer and friends do bring up a good point:

    “Dr. Singer May Be Singing”
    (But That’s Molech on the Drums)

    See that baby in the corner?
    Her life won’t be as it should!
    I can tell she’ll be a problem…
    Yes, ma’am, it’s just understood!

    She’s not really quite a “person”;
    And we’re sure she’s unaware.
    Her life may not be worth living…
    Let’s “abort” and show we care.

    She’s just not what we’d call “human”…
    She’s not really at that stage.
    “Cute” enough, but just not “with it”…
    Clueless and quite disengaged.

    She has no real moral standing…
    Not just yet,….. and that’s the glitch!
    She’s no diff’rent than a tomcat,
    Or some little mongrel bitch.

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