The Onion’s “Abortionplex” Story: Who’s the Joke On?

Yesterday the parody news website The Onion posted an article titled, “Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex.”

In the satirical piece, the “Abortionplex” is said to allow Planned Parenthood to “terminate unborn lives with an efficiency never before thought possible”:

During a press conference, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards told reporters that the new state-of-the-art fetus-killing facility located in the nation’s heartland offers quick, easy, in-and-out abortions to all women, and represents a bold reinvention of the group’s long-standing mission and values.

“Although we’ve traditionally dedicated 97 percent of our resources to other important services such as contraception distribution, cancer screening, and STD testing, this new complex allows us to devote our full attention to what has always been our true passion: abortion,” said Richards, standing under a banner emblazoned with Planned Parenthood’s new slogan, “No Life Is Sacred.” “And since Congress voted to retain our federal funding, it’s going to be that much easier for us to maximize the number of tiny, beating hearts we stop every day.”

“The Abortionplex’s high-tech machinery is capable of terminating one pregnancy every three seconds,” Richards added. “That’s almost a million abortions every month. We’re so thrilled!”

The 900,000-square-foot facility has more than 2,000 rooms dedicated to the abortion procedure. The abundance of surgical space, Richards said, will ensure that women visiting the facility can be quickly fitted into stirrups without pausing to second-guess their decision or consider alternatives such as adoption. Hundreds of on-site counselors are also available to meet with clients free of charge and go over the many ways that carrying a child to term will burden them and very likely ruin their lives.

Who’s Being Parodied?

One way to look at the article is to see it as parodying Planned Parenthood. But it seems to me that the real intent was to lampoon the image of Planned Parenthood portrayed by pro-lifers — in other words, to lampoon pro-lifers.

This is certainly the way it was taken by Vanessa at the stridently pro-choice blog Feministing. She called it “awesome.”

But even if the primary intent was to lampoon pro-lifers and the way we view Planned Parenthood, it still shed some light on some important points.

For one, Planned Parenthood has clearly shown its preference in recent years for über-large facilities, having built several of them across the country. The largest of these, in Houston, Texas, is 78,000 square feet, and cost $26 million to build.

As a result, PP’s abortion numbers have continued to go up — while, incidentally, their numbers of prenatal clients and adoption referrals have continued to go down — such that local, independent abortion providers have expressed their frustrations about Planned Parenthood taking business away from them, saying things like, “They’re not unlike other big national chains.”

Planned Parenthood: “No Longer a Sacred Cow”

One interesting reaction I came across to The Onion story was from Stephen Aden, senior counsel at the Alliance Defense Fund:

When you’re satirized in The Onion, as Planned Parenthood was yesterday, you’re no longer a sacred cow. That’s very good news for the pro-life movement, since it means that an honest dialogue can begin about whether it is wise or necessary to continue heaping a third of a billion dollars in taxpayer funding on the nation’s biggest purveyor of abortion.

As I mentioned earlier, although some pro-choice voices have said how “awesome” they think The Onion’s “Abortionplex” article is, there’s one organization that notably has not said a word about it on either their Twitter or Facebook pages:

Planned Parenthood.

Why?  Because Planned Parenthood — and especially CEO Cecile Richards — don’t like to draw attention to the fact that they are America’s largest abortion chain. Even pro-choice bloggers like RH Reality Check’s Antoinette Bonsignore have talked publicly about this.

And so, at the end of the day, I think that even though the intention of the “Abortionplex” article was to lampoon pro-lifers’ view of Planned Parenthood, it’s the abortion giant itself that ends up the worse for wear.

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