'Unplanned' More than Delivers

By Marc Massery

The makers of the movie "Unplanned" have finally done it. They've successfully created the most compelling, well-balanced pro-life film of the 21st century.

Pure Flix, the makers of the movie "God's Not Dead," produced "Unplanned," which opened in theatres nationwide on Friday, March 29. This dramatic story of redemption is based on the memoir of the 2008 employee of the year for Planned Parenthood, Abby Johnson, who in 2009, left her job as clinic director in Houston, Texas, where she oversaw more than 22,000 abortions. Ever since, she's dedicated herself to the pro-life cause and through her non-profit "And Then There Were None," she's helped more than 500 abortion clinic workers leave the industry.

The movie begins toward the end of the story, as the shorthanded staff at the abortion clinic ask their boss, Abby, portrayed by actress Ashley Bratcher, to assist with an ultra-sound guided abortion. Abby holds the probe during the procedure and watches the black-and-white, 2D screen, which depicts a 13-week old child twisting and turning, trying to avoid the abortionist's vacuum. After watching the vacuum slowly dismember and suction the child out of the womb, Abby breaks down in tears and suddenly begins to realize the gravity of her life's work.

Most of the rest of the film serves as a flashback of Abby's life, explaining what led up to her watershed moment. Though she was raised in a pro-life family, after becoming sexually active in college, Abby ends up having two abortions herself, without her parents' knowing. Her second abortion, induced by a pill, leaves Abby horrified as she miscarries her child in the tub of her bathroom at home, revealing an apparently common, ugly side of abortion that Planned Parenthood doesn't advertise. Despite this horrifying experience, she takes an internship at a Planned Parenthood, and this highly-motivated, overachiever quickly works her way up the corporate ladder.

A Careful, Well-Balanced Film
Since the protagonist is formerly one of the abortion industry's greatest advocates, the film reveals a look at Planned Parenthood from the inside out. Much of Abby's work involves convincing women regarding the morality of abortion and trying to meet Planned Parenthood's monthly quotas. These quotas ultimately force clinic workers to treat abortion as a product they must sell to clients, regardless of the circumstances.

While exposing the greed and violence of abortion, the makers of the film keep the movie well-balanced. They don't romanticize the prolife movement, nor do they demean pro-choice characters.

Much of the movie revolves around the relationship between the pro-life people praying outside the abortion clinic and those inside the clinic procuring or having an abortion. While the film shows caring, peaceful pro-lifers, who ultimately end up helping Abby transition out of her career, they also depict the self-righteous activists who scream at women as they walk into Planned Parenthood.

By depicting these vehement pro-lifers (including one dressed as the grim reaper), the film shows the ugly, counterproductive side of the pro-life movement. This gives credence to the good intentions of people like Abby who saw their work at Planned Parenthood as an opportunity to help and protect women in crisis.

The other central relationships in the story center around Abby, her parents, and especially her husband, Doug. While her parents pray that she might leave her career in the abortion field, Abby ends up marrying a pro-lifer, who loves her deeply, even while they have entirely different opinions on abortion. In the end, her husband's dissenting, but ultimately non-judgmental attitude provides a chance for Abby to realize the truth regarding abortion on her own, leading to her conversion akin to Saul of Tarsus.

Though the movie contains graphic images, it doesn't deserve the "R" rating given by the Motion Picture Association of America. It does not contain profanity nor sexual themes. It shows nothing worse than what Abby herself experienced as a clinic director and survivor of two abortions. Any person who could be involved in an abortion is old enough to see this movie.

Despite the main substance of the film, it has its fair share of laughs and heartwarming moments along the way. Without giving away the ending, you'll actually leave the theatre feeling uplifted, hopeful, and motivated to pray in front of your nearest abortion clinic.

Making Waves
Though "Unplanned" only appeared in a quarter of the theaters worldwide (1,059 to be exact), it ended up fifth in gross revenue, bringing in more than $6 million, despite initial tracking predicting only $3 million. Thanks to this early success, "Unplanned" will be expanded to more than 1,700 theaters throughout the United States this weekend. This is all despite its unsubstantiated "R" rating and several television networks declining to play ads for the film.

Abby Johnson will be speaking at the 14th Annual Divine Mercy Conference at Cardinal Spellman High School in Bronx, New York, on Saturday, April 6. Visit TheDivineMercy.org/Bronx for more information and to register to attend.


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