I finally got to Unplanned, the film about the Planned Parenthood clinic director, Abby Johnson, who turned into a fiery pro-life activist. The movie had been out a couple weeks and had already been pulled from the theater nearest me. However, it was still playing at the big multiplex at the Altamonte Mall. For a 4-pm matinee on a Sunday there were about 30 people in the theater — a respectable number given the touchy subject matter and the fact that it had already been there 16 days.
Being pulled from the theater in Deltona runs counter to what’s happening across the nation. In its second week in release it was added to about 400 screens. It’s been a modest box office hit. It has already made back over twice what it cost to make. And it is making a difference. Over a hundred people working in the abortion industry have contacted the website advertised at the end of the film for those who want to exit the industry.
I’d already heard quite a bit about the movie. There’s been a strong push in Christian media and conservative talk-radio to publicize Abby’s controversial story. I knew it had an R rating and that some felt that was unwarranted. However, the R rating was not too unfair. It’s not a film for young children or the squeamish. But perhaps PG-13 would have been more appropriate.
Of course, the professional critics hated the film. They are for the most part uber-libs and therefore not pro-life. And they see their role as providers of snarky commentary for a sophisticated audience, and therefore anything that smacks of the label “Christian” is a fine target in their darkened minds. However, Unplanned is a well-crafted movie. It has good production vales. It tells Abby Johnson’s story in fairly a straight-forward fashion. And it gives more than a nod to Planned Parenthood’s side of the story. Other than Abby’s cold-as-ice, hard-as-nails boss, Cheryl (Robia Scott), the workers at her clinic are not demonized. Scott is great as a well-groomed, almost glamorous, calculating purveyor of death — and Ashley Bratcher does a solid job portraying a naïve Abby whose eyes are suddenly opened to the evil she is a participant in.
Fresh out of college Abby buys into all of the pro-choice rhetoric and sees PP as mostly a provider of women’s healthcare. She starts as a clinic volunteer and in a few short months works her way up to clinic director — the youngest in Planned Parenthood.
All is well until one day the clinic is short staffed and she’s asked to assist in an abortion. Her role is to run the ultrasound. On the tv monitor she sees the fetus struggling to live, fighting the doctor’s intrusion into the womb — and then suddenly the baby is sucked out and there’s a empty womb and a red-tinged plop in a bucket. The power of the empty womb is deafening — for me in an tragic sort of transposition it echoes the power of empty tomb of Easter It a scene of such unsurpassed brutality that it could bring even the hard-hearted to tears. The experience changed the life of Abby Johnson forever.
Almost immediately she contacts 40-Days For Life a pro-life group that had been picketing her clinic for years. The rest of the story involves a law suit that PP launches against her. A telling scene is a confrontation with her old boss Cheryl who says, “We’ve got Gates and Buffet and Soros, who’ve you got Abby?” It turns out she had a cocky and pretty darn good attorney herself. I have not been able to find the name of the actor who plays him but he was great — the very essence of every slick tv advertising personal injury attorney ever.
I thought the movie was very authentic. The film doctor who did the abortion is a real doctor who had done many abortions before he too turned. Like many docs he was coldly efficient and a bit arrogant.
Google initially labeled the film as “drama/propaganda.” I suppose it is, in the same sense that the Bible is propaganda to nonbelievers. A little over a decade ago my eyes were opened to the monstrous evil that is abortion– and once you see it you can never look away. Also, as a Christian mental health provider I’ve come to see post-abortion syndrome as society’s largest unrecognized emotional problem. But at least women who are believers have Jesus’ forgiveness on their side. Nonbelievers only have denial and the cold comfort of the fellowship that an industry and culture of death can provide.
PP and the whole left-leaning Hollywood, mainstream media cabal are threatened by Unplanned because it’s powerful, it opens eyes, it tells the truth.