The Providence Journal, it appears, is among the newspapers that are declining to run a controversial Doonesbury comic strip this week lampooning a Texas abortion law.
Turn to page D10 today, and you'll find what appears to be a substitute Doonesbury - an inoffensive confection about life in the digital age. I've put in a call to executive editor Tom Heslin, but Journal management never comments on the paper's operations.
Newsroom sources say there has been no missive to the staff, to date, on any Doonesbury decision.
The cartoon, in a week-long series, takes aim at a Texas law requiring a woman to have an ultrasound before undergoing an abortion. In the strip, a woman arrives at a clinic and is asked to repair to a "shaming room." A doctor reads a script from Texas Governor Rick Perry discussing the patient's "compulsory transvaginal exam." A male state legislator calls her a "slut."
Some papers have declined to run the strip altogether. Others, like the Los Angeles Times, have moved it to the op-ed page and put editors forward to explain the decision.
Doonesbury artist Gary Trudeau is blasting the papers that have decided against running the strip:
"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."
This one seems like a no-brainer to me: run the cartoon, let the debate follow. A newspaper is supposed to be a forum for this sort of thing.
By the way, I tweeted about this. I've joined the fray. Follow me @d_scharfenberg.