A decade ago, Planned Parenthood began an aggressive expansion strategy centered around the construction of large, new abortion facilities across the United States, starting with Aurora, Illinois. Thirty of these “mega-centers” are now open from Oregon to Florida, with more under construction or in the planning stages.
Pro-life activists speculate that the mega-centers program was launched in anticipation of new health care laws friendly to Planned Parenthood’s mission of promoting abortion, contraception and their skewed vision of sexual health. Indeed, the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Obamacare) has proven to be a great boon to Planned Parenthood. Should future legislation expand taxpayer funding for abortion, the mega-centers will be there to capitalize on it even further.
The mega-centers also serve Planned Parenthood’s effort to create a more positive public image—to become “the Lenscrafters of reproductive health care” as one Planned Parenthood official put it. The small, run-down Planned Parenthood clinics in blighted neighborhoods so familiar to pro-life activists over the years are being replaced with these new “state of the art” facilities, often in upscale areas.
However, Planned Parenthood’s designs have often been undermined by the strategy of deception they have adopted in constructing the new mega-centers. They’ve created front-companies to buy property and acquire building permits, and have even gone so far as to lie to both contractors and local officials about the intended use of these buildings.
The public outcry resulting when this deception finally comes to light has aided pro-life resistance to the mega-centers, in some cases leading to fraud investigations and civil lawsuits. Though pro-lifers have only rarely stopped a mega-center from opening, several have been significantly delayed, and many new activists have been recruited thanks to the controversy.
The mega-centers are imposing structures, typically featuring bullet-proof glass, narrow windows and banks of video cameras—”abortion fortresses” of sorts. Planned Parenthood claims these features are needed for security, but their real purpose is two-fold: to appeal to major donors and to intimidate pro-life activists.
Planned Parenthood officials admit the mega-centers are designed to scuttle pro-life activity, especially sidewalk counseling, with entrances set back from the public sidewalk and dense landscaping making it hard for sidewalk counselors to speak to their clients.
Pro-life activists have risen to this formidable challenge by increasing their numbers outside the mega-centers, creatively using signage to reach clients and aggressively defending their rights in court. Thanks to these tireless efforts, unborn babies—and their mothers—are still being saved at the Planned Parenthood mega-centers.