The Standard-Examiner will run substitute "Doonesbury" comic strips in its print edition beginning Monday instead of a series that uses graphic imagery to lampoon a Texas law requiring women to have an ultrasound before an abortion.
The original strips will be posted on the newspaper's website at www.standard.net each day with a note above the replacement strip in the print edition referring to the strips online. The replacement strips will run through Saturday.
The Standard-Examiner publishes the strip by cartoonist Garry Trudeau, who makes sarcastic swipes at society's foibles, on its editorial page.
The decision to replace the strips in the print edition and run the originals online was made by the newspaper's editorial board. The board decided the language in the original strips was not appropriate for a comic that could be viewed by children, but that putting the strips online was a way to still allow readers to access the originals.
Trudeau said Friday that "it would have been a little surprising" if there hadn't been any pushback against the series.
"Abortion remains a deeply contentious subject. Having said that, the goal is definitely not to antagonize editors and get booted from papers," he said in an email to The Associated Press. "It's just an occupational risk."
Texas' law does not specify the type of sonogram a woman must receive, but an invasive transvaginal ultrasound is necessary to meet requirements that the doctor show the woman an image of the fetus, describe its features and make the fetal heartbeat audible in the first trimester.
Asked for comment on the "Doonesbury" series, Texas Gov. Rick Perry spokesman Catherine Frazier said the governor is proud of his leadership on the sonogram law.
"The decision to end a life is not funny," Frazier said. "There is nothing comic about this tasteless interpretation of legislation we have passed in Texas to ensure that women have all the facts when making a life-ending decision."
Sue Roush, managing editor at the Universal UClick syndicate, which distributes "Doonesbury," said newspapers uncomfortable with the abortion law series were given the option to run the set of substitute strips.
Universal UClick president Lee Salem said he wouldn't be surprised if 20 to 30 of the 1,400 newspapers that carry "Doonesbury" decided to opt out and run the replacements.
"Once every five or six months there's usually something in 'Doonesbury' that causes a stir. Every two or three years there's something that causes a bigger stir," Salem said. "Historically, that's par for the course with 'Doonesbury' because Garry explores topics on comics pages that are not normally there."
Six installments of "Doonesbury" satirizing the anti-abortion movie "The Silent Scream" were canceled in 1985 when the syndicate decided they were too controversial to be distributed.
Other states have enacted laws requiring pre-abortion ultrasounds, although Virginia removed a provision from its measure that specifically called for the invasive exam. The measure in its original form had become a target of national political columnists and the word "transvaginal" was mocked and parodied on "Saturday Night Live" and "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."