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'Doonesbury' abortion story arc moves to Op-Ed page

A story line about a woman seeking an abortion in Texas prompts Times editors to relocate the strip from the comics pages for the arc's six-day run.

March 12, 2012|By Reed Johnson, Los Angeles Times
  • "Doonesbury" comic strip.
"Doonesbury" comic strip. (Universal Uclick )

A series of "Doonesbury" strips lampooning a Texas law requiring women to undergo an ultrasound before receiving an abortion will appear on The Times' Op-Ed page starting Monday rather than in the comics section, where the strip normally appears.

Times editors decided on the change after previewing the six-day series arc, which likens the ultrasound procedure to rape.

In the strips, a young woman at an abortion clinic is chastised by a male legislator who calls her a "slut," and a doctor rebukes her by reading a scripted greeting from Texas Gov. Rick Perry in advance of her "compulsory transvaginal exam." While awaiting the exam, the woman is placed in a "shaming room."

"We felt the story line was a little over the top for a comics page," said Alice Short, a Times assistant managing editor.

Sue Horton, the Op-Ed and Sunday Opinion editor of The Times, said the Op-Ed page was an appropriate place for the series.

"We carry both op-eds and cartoons about controversial subjects, and this is a controversial subject," she said. Monday's Op-Ed page is on Page A17.

While the series is running in the Opinion pages, a different set of "Doonesburys" will appear in The Times' comics section. The Universal Uclick syndicate made those strips available as an alternative to the series on the Texas abortion law.

A number of U.S. newspapers have indicated that they also will move the series to their opinion pages or run them online only. Several plan not to run the series at all.

An Associated Press article quoted "Doonesbury" creator Garry Trudeau as saying "it would have been a little surprising" if the series hadn't provoked such a response from some newspapers. About 1,400 newspapers carry "Doonesbury," which has generated controversy before, notably with a 1985 series of cartoons lampooning the anti-abortion film "The Silent Scream."

reed.johnson@latimes.com

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