In the past few months, Americans have seen major developments on abortion policy. New York recently passed a late-term abortion law and even lit up the One World Trade Center in pink to celebrate the occasion. In Virginia, a similar law failed to pass, but Governor Ralph Northam defended the bill, and some would argue that he even was defending post-birth abortion. Senate Democrats (aside from Jones, Manchin, and Casey), recently rejected a Born-Alive Bill that would protect babies born alive during botched abortions. As a result of this shift by Democrats from “Safe, Legal, Rare” to “All the Time and Everywhere,” Americans seem to have shifted more towards a pro-life stance, as abortion extremism on the left has grown. The upcoming release of Unplanned, a film about pro-life activist Abby Johnson, could not be more timely.
Unplanned is the second blockbuster pro-life film of the past year, following Gosnell’s release in October. Like Gosnell, Unplanned follows a true story from the horrors of the abortion industry.
The film catalogs Abby Johnson’s rise through the ranks of Planned Parenthood, to her conversion to a pro-life advocate and the eventual closing of the abortion clinic in Bryan, Texas that she ran for years. Johnson was a top performing clinic director, and even received an employee of the year award in 2008. Just a year after receiving that award, Johnson was out on the sidewalk trying to convince women not to get abortions with the Coalition for Life, the same group that she previously turned the sprinklers on to rout.
Unplanned is extremely raw and real. The acting feels far more authentic than what is usually seen in Independent films, Ashley Bratcher depicts Johnson with deep realism and emotion. The film shows Johnson’s struggles with justifying her job at Planned Parenthood to her devout family, the pain of her own two abortions, and the emotional pain of her extreme transition from pro-choice to pro-life.
While many Christian and conservative films shy away from graphic violence, Unplanned does not. In the first few minutes of the film, a rendition of a vacuum aspiration abortion is shown via ultrasound. A chemically induced abortion is also shown in the film, as are petri dishes containing fetal remains. These extremely disturbing scenes aren’t for show, they are for accuracy, something that is desperately needed at a time when there is so much misinformation surrounding abortion.
The film also makes it clear which types of pro-life activism are effective. Shaming and violence are shown to be ineffective and wrong, while the encouraging and forgiving activism of Coalition for Life is shown to work. On an uplifting note, the organization’s embrace of Johnson after her transition shows that anyone can be redeemed, and that tragedy can lead to great gifts and blessings.
The film has already been screened in several locations — the reviewer watched at CPAC in late February — but it won’t hit the big screen until March 28. While the film only depicts “medical procedures” it was given an R rating by the MPAA for the abortion scenes. A teenage girl will not be able to see this film by herself in the movie theater, but she would be able to have these procedures. In a moment of irony, our hedonistic entertainment industry has admitted that abortion is violence, something they probably don’t even realize they have done.
An R rating could sway some more conservative folks away from this film, particularly parents. It’s probably best to leave young children at home for this film to avoid traumatizing them, but it depicts truths that older children need to see. The R rating, perhaps indirectly, shows just how destructive and violent abortion is, it ends the life of a human being. If you do go see this film, bring a pro-choice friend, see if you can get them to change their mind or at least think about abortion. Unplanned is a story that needs to be told, and it delivers.