The cartoonist's pen might be mightier than the sword, but Gary Trudeau's mouth is also packing a punch. He's blasting newspapers that are dumping Doonsebury this week because the strip attacks state abortion laws requiring transvaginal ultrasounds as rape. "I write the strip to be read, not removed," he said. Some "99% 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," he tells the Guardian, which is running the strip. "In Texas, the sonograms are the least of it. The legislature has also defunded women's health clinics all over the state. Insanity."
The Oregonian is one of the papers dumping the strip for the week because editors have deemed it "over the line." In the cartoon, a woman is sent to the "shaming room" at an abortion clinic, and a Texas state legislator asks if her parents "know she's a slut." Trudeau defended his use of the word "rape" in the strip as a nurse prepares to insert a transvaginal sonogram wand into the woman. "Many people here are now referring to transvaginal sonograms as 'state rape.' That seems about right to me," said Trudeau. Some 1,400 newspapers carry Doonesbury. It's not yet clear how many will opt not to run it this week, but as many as 40 papers have asked Universal Uclick, which distributes the strip, about possible "substitutes," said a spokeswoman.