I don’t go to a lot of movies. But this week I made it a point to see “Unplanned,” the true story of Abby Johnson, Planned Parenthood’s youngest clinic director and one-time Employee of the Year. Abby is a rising star in the PP universe … until she has a complete change of heart and becomes an ardent pro-lifer. That is the one choice “pro-choice” proponents will not tolerate.
“Unplanned” is difficult to watch at times but extraordinarily powerful. I also thought it very well done, something I can’t always say about so-called “faith-based” movies. Well written, well acted, it has the ring of authenticity. It does not portray Johnson as some kind of stained-glass saint who never has a bad day or impure thought; far from it. She is shown with flaws, conflicts, occasional lack of integrity and quite literal blood on her hands – she’s involved in upwards of 22,000 abortions … including two of her own – which makes her transformation that much more compelling. The forces of secularism have tried to undermine this film every way they can, beginning with slapping that ridiculous “R” rating on it.
I don’t watch many R-rated movies; the only two exceptions I’ve made in 20 years or so were “Saving Private Ryan” and “The Passion of the Christ.” Both are incredibly violent, bloody depictions of real events. “Unplanned” is also a realistic representation of real life – and real death – but it does not compare to those movies. Your average teenage-targeted horror film probably has more blood and gore in the opening title sequence than “Unplanned,” and many of them are PG-13 – e.g. “The Ring,” “Slender Man,” “Happy Death Day,” and something titled “Drag Me to Hell.” Charming, kid-friendly pictures all, no doubt.
Someone has pointed out that the same people who made it so people 17 and under have to be accompanied by a parent to see a movie about abortion … want girls 17 and under to be able to actually get an abortion without their parents knowing anything about it. Absurd. Not to mention obscene.
Eight words that summarize my thoughts on this movie:
- Truth: Ted Koppel once memorably said, “Our society finds Truth too strong a medicine to digest undiluted. In its purest form Truth is not a polite tap on the shoulder; it is a hallowing reproach.” “Unplanned” is strong medicine. It is not a polite tap on the shoulder. See it if you’ve got the nerve. Speaking of:
- Courage: Abby’s story is a profile in courage. She has her flaws, as mentioned, but to do what she did – not just quitting her job as clinic director, but then actually taking a place among the ones praying on the other side of the fence surrounding it, knowing she will incur the full wrath of Planned Parenthood – is incredibly gutsy. It will take a lot of courage for some people just to watch this movie, as it may well upend their own views on this volatile issue and even pull the scabs off old wounds. Which leads me to:
- Forgiveness: This is a story of monstrous evil and injustice perpetrated on the most innocent and defenseless members of our species … of an organization and an industry that are dedicated to keeping abortion on demand throughout all nine months of pregnancy “legal,” and whether “safe” or not, anything but “rare” … of the people who make incredible profits off of the killing of the unborn (and even selling their body parts) … and of one young woman forced to confront her own culpability and complicity in it. There is forgiveness in Christ for the sin of abortion, for those who’ve had one (or more), those who’ve performed and supported them, including Planned Parenthood’s youngest clinic director and one time Employee of the Year. This story is about Abby Johnson’s forgiveness, and how she encounters:
- Grace: First from her own family, the parents and husband who love her unconditionally even while disagreeing with her vehemently; then from the people who stand quietly, compassionately on the other side of that fence praying; and ultimately from God – Abby is stunned by grace. Speaking of the people on the other side of that fence praying:
- Prayer: That’s it. That’s the weapon of the pro-life advocates – volunteers with the Coalition for Life (now known as “40 Days for Life”): prayer. No knives, guns, bombs, or any other form of real or implied violence. (See 2 Corinthians 10:3-4.) While there is another so-called “pro-life” group pictured who scream epithets and seek to intimidate and shame the Planned Parenthood staff and the women who seek out their services, the ones who win the day are those who simply pray and reach out in compassion. They are models of:
- Commitment: Dozens show up day after day not to harass or intimidate women going into the clinic, but to pray, and to try to persuade them not to abort their babies. After eight years of committed service in the cause of abortion rights, abortion services, Abby Johnson resigns from Planned Parenthood … and heads straight to the headquarters of Coalition for Life. (Spoiler alert: that PP clinic ends up closing its doors … and is now the headquarters of the Coalition.) All of which is reason for:
- Hope: I have long maintained that even though it may look dark right now, with approximately 1.2 million abortions performed each year in the U.S., 332,000 of them in PP clinics, over 60 million deaths since Roe v. Wade became the law of the land January 22, 1973 … ultimately the truth will prevail and justice will be done for the youngest members of our society. Just as with slavery and civil rights, one day future generations will look back on what has happened in our country, what we allowed to be done to our most vulnerable and defenseless, and they will shake their heads and say, “How could that happen? How could you not know?” Movies like “Unplanned,” as well as the increasing transparency of the womb, make it seem that day must come. Please God, make it come soon. Until then, grant us grace to take a stand for:
- Life: Life in utero. Life in the clinic. Life outside the fence. Life in this country. Life eternal. Those in the pro-life movement are not merely “anti-abortion.” We are pro-life, from the moment of conception until natural death. Life for babies in the womb, outside the womb, for children, teenagers, adults, veterans, the elderly, widows/widowers, orphans, the mentally, physically and emotionally handicapped, prisoners, girls and boys trapped in human slavery, single moms/dads, women with difficult or unwanted pregnancies … and life for those who work in the abortion industry.
“Unplanned” is one of the most important events to happen in years in the long, painful, sorrowful but ultimately hopeful struggle to defend the life of the most defenseless among us. It calls to mind the saying first uttered by Teresa of Avila: “Once you see truth, you can’t unsee it.”
I urge you to see it, in a theater (so it makes as much money as possible) before it leaves. Movie theaters and the rest of the entertainment establishment need to know there is an audience for these kinds of films. And our country needs to know the truth about what goes on in the womb, and during an abortion, and that there is a significant body of people who believe in the sanctity of human life as an inalienable right from our Creator.