Since almost none of the stations were willing to touch such a politically-charged movie, Unplanned‘s trailer hasn’t been shown hardly at all. So, if you have not yet seen it. Here it is:
RATED R | 5-stars
I have a secret to admit: As a general rule, I don’t like Christian movies.
But I knew that I would be one of the first in line to see Unplanned, a film about the life of Abby Johnson. I knew Abby’s name already because of her powerful testimony: She was the youngest Clinic Director (employee of the year even!) for Planned Parenthood when she left and became a champion of the Pro-Life movement, seeking to expose the lies Planned Parenthood (PP) tells, but possibly even more importantly, to help women who want to leave the abortion industry start over.
I had the privilege of meeting her a couple years ago and was blown away by how real she was. Everything from her righteous anger as she recalled the lies she told on behalf of her company to her tears as she wept for the babies she killed to her authentic compassion as she offered genuine love to all—regardless of any sins they had committed against life.
Unplanned perfectly captured Abby Johnson. And more importantly, it captured her message of love and hope. So often, the abortion debate gets turned into “Mother vs. Child” and the comprehensive love of humanity is lost. So often, we fixate on telling the world that abortion is wrong—that it’s murder—that we forget that 1 in 3 women have had or will have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old. We polarize. We ostracize.
Abortion is murder, yes. Even the Motion Picture Association of America thought that the two abortions depicted were violent—violent enough to earn an R rating. Abortion is violent enough that the MPAA doesn’t think anyone under the age of 17 should watch Unplanned without parental consent, but in most states in America, girls as young as 13 are able to go have an abortion without that same consent.
However, throwing that in people’s faces won’t affect change. So, with great vulnerability, Abby Johnson opens up about her two abortions. She walks us through every step of each one, letting them both be shown on screen. Ashley Bratcher does a heart-rendingly good job of depicting the fog of the first and the horror of the second. She shows how those abortions, even though her family was fiercely pro-life, meant that she was passionate about doing everything she could to keep other women from having to make that choice. She reasoned that if they needed it, well, who was she to judge? Planned Parenthood told her that she could help with both of those goals, and they embraced her in a way her faith community didn’t. They didn’t judge.
Unplanned shows the progression of an earnest, true-blue woman. Abby is passionate about doing everything she can for women and is willing to blur lines at times to help them. She knows that abortion isn’t good, but she believes that PP is trying their hardest to make them rare. She works up from a volunteer to a recruit to a counselor to clinic director in record time, and she genuinely loves the work she is doing and believes she is doing it for God.
Until the moment she is asked to help assist in an Ultrasound Guided Abortion and she watches the baby fight against the suction trying to rip his body apart. Sick with what she just saw, Abby realizes that she has been woefully wrong in her defense of Planned Parenthood and that her work has been a lie.
She runs to the one place she knows she will find someone who can understand her horror. Not her parents who have always expressed their disapproval of her work. Not even to her wonderful husband who loves her despite disagreeing with her work. She runs to the Coalition of Life. She runs to the sweet young woman she formed a tentative friendship with as the woman prayed weekly outside of Abby’s clinic and to the woman’s husband who runs the Crisis Pregnancy Center.
And they accepted her. They embraced her. They understood the horror of what she had done, but they saw her tears, they saw her pain, and they knew that she was the Prodigal Son returned home. They saw in her the Adulterous Woman, and they lifted her up instead of casting a stone. They rallied around her in a way that she never had before. They got a lawyer for her when she was sued by Planned Parenthood, walked with her every step of the way, and still continue working with her to end abortion—both nationwide and worldwide.
I went in to Unplanned expecting a movie about the horrors of abortion. I left shocked to my core at how merciful and loving and hopeful this movie was. It was hard to watch, because it doesn’t let you NOT know what’s going on behind those doors. If you watch Unplanned, you will know beyond a shadow of a doubt what abortion is and what it does, and you will have to make an educated decision about where you stand politically and morally.
Abby Johnson’s story shows that no matter how far you think you may have fallen, God is always bigger than any sin you have. Abby killed two of her own children by abortion, was complicit in 22-thousand other abortions… And yet, God is using her for great and glorious things. Because of her witness and her non-profit organization, And Then There Were None, over 500 abortion workers have left the field and started new lives. Because of her willingness to go head-to-head with one of the biggest corporations in the world, thousands are learning the truth. Because of her willingness to be vulnerable, we have this beautiful film.
But equally important in this film is the role of the Coalition for Life, which now is known as 40 Days for Life, and their witness. Abby shares statistics about the witness of peaceful prayer: If women entering an abortion clinic see people praying peacefully for their babies, up to 75% of them will not return for an abortion. Many will walk out of the room even after they have been checked in. This was actually the case of the mother of Ashley Bratcher, the actress who plays Abby in the film. Ashley’s mother was on the table, pregnant with her, when she had a change of heart and walked out.
Once in a while, even a clinic director will quit. And sometimes, the clinic will close and be re-purposed as a genuine crisis pregnancy center—which is what happened with the clinic in Bryan, Texas.
Unplanned IS rated R. The reason the MPAA rated it R was for the two abortion scenes. There’s no language, nudity, sexuality, or anything else. Just those scenes. And yes, they are graphic. They are not pretty. But they are real. Yet these are not gratuitous scenes. This is reality.
The producers of Unplanned were hoping for a PG-13 rating so that you all could go see it without parental consent, but the MPAA slapped an R rating on it for violence, and, as Abby says in the film, “Nobody said abortion was pretty.” Abby Johnson wrote an open letter to all who wondered about such a high rating, and because I think she says it best, I’ll link that here.
I will say that, even with the violence that garnered this rating, Unplanned is worth going to see. It is worth seeing those hard scenes for truth to be seen and for the beauty that comes after the pain. It is not easy though.
Abby Johnson’s story means a lot to me personally. I’ve met the people depicted in Unplanned. Shawn went to school in the town I live in, and I know some of his family. I’ve gotten to meet one of Abby’s kids and talk to her, hug her, and share stories about life with her. These are real people, real events. This is history happening NOW. This is our Holocaust, our Civil Rights Movement. Abby is sharing her past sin, her painful wounds, so that you might not make the same mistakes she did.
This is the fight we’re fighting in our nation right now, and, for you older teens and adults, this is the issue we are voting on every election.
For anyone that has had been touched by abortion in any way, Unplanned is a film for you. It is, at its core, a movie about hope, redemption, and forgiveness.
If you cannot go see the film, but you know you need help, text HOPE to 73075. This is the crisis network set up by Abby Johnson and 40 Days for Life, and those words are the last on the screen before the credits roll. If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy right now, please seek help from your local crisis preganancy center.
Brianna is a manager at her favorite childhood bookstore. She is likely to be found curled up with a book and her black cat, Bear, talking to a stranger, dancing outside in a thunderstorm, singing Disney songs while making cookies, or snuggling her best friend's baby while drinking coffee. Her heart is fueled by the desire to help people find their unique wings and use them in whatever capacity God has created them for. She is passionate about seeing and finding Christ in the secular world wherever she can.